Most of us see life from a totally different perspective to those that are fighting to survive – and the Christmas season is one stark example of how the experience of Christmas can be so different for people who have much, and for those that are barely holding things together.
During the holiday season, things begin to slow down and people who have much focus on going on holiday and preparing elaborate meals and celebrations for their own organisations, family and friends. However, there are also many individuals, organisations and businesses who plan to contribute towards making Christmas special and meaningful for underprivileged and destitute people.
While Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) focus their attention on making the Christmas season special for their beneficiaries, many of these NPOs also find it hard to cover their operational costs for December and January because donations tend to be channelled towards events and gifts rather than the regular support and functioning of the organisation. Helping NPOs through these periods by contributing to their running costs, enables them to continue doing the good work they have been doing all year round, and to help them prepare to start the year ahead without any shortfalls.
Many children dislike the holidays because their parents drink or use drugs excessively. In these homes there is often no food in the home and the incidents of abuse rise significantly during this time. In this season of generosity, we need to make sure we channel our giving in such a way that the children are indeed the ones that benefit and receive, and that it is not wasted by adults who are in the stronghold of substance abuse or poverty. Children always love a special gift which they can call their own or a special treat which could be as simple as a take-away meal.
One of the best ways to ensure that your generous contribution is meaningful, is to ask and listen out for what the needs are amongst the NPOs you might know. Find out a little bit more about the people that those NPOs serve.
Some of the things that can help people who are struggling, or organisations that work with people who are destitute can range between:
- Organising a special day with meals and gifts.
- Blessing the staff or foster parents who have been working so hard to support those in need throughout the year.
- Putting together basic needs in such a way that weekly parcels can be distributed to the families to ensure the children and elderly are taken care of.
- Helping families prepare for the new school year by contributing towards school fees, books, clothes, school bags and stationary.
- Practical things like clothes, bedding and basic furniture.
Aim to contribute age appropriate gifts, and always take into consideration the dignity of the gift receivers, and where possible, think also about how to contribute for the longer term in ways that will impact people beyond the holiday season. This could be in the form of bursaries, paying for a training course, offering work experience, covering transport costs or contributing to the NPOs ongoing operational costs.
A spirit of generosity is always appreciated (and important) at this time of year, but when specific, or urgent, needs are met, our giving is most meaningful and most memorable. For both the giver and the receiver.
Mathilda Fourie is the CEO of Vastfontein Community Transformation. Vastfontein brings quality education to a previously disadvantaged community with the support of their partners in the ICT community. They expose their learners to technology, thereby releasing their potential. In the future they hope to build up to 40 care homes which will support and tend as well as impact on the lives of 240 orphans. At Vastfontein, leaders are raised and equipped so they may become the next generation who will positively impact on our country’s future.