Giving isn’t just about money

So, when I started this blog I promised I wouldn’t say “I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in ages” so lets just say the dark mornings are taking their toll and move on, shall we?

Goodwill to all men (and women, children and animals etc.)

Santa Coat 009Christmas is a time of giving and sharing, of friends and family, and reaching out to those less fortunate than ourselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the giving aspect recently, particularly since most of us have very little extra to give this year, especially in monetary terms. But there are other things you can give that are just as valuable.

As many of you will know already the Dublin SPCA, where I volunteer, have found this last year particularly difficult. It’s no secret that they are ending the year with redundancies and somewhat curtailed services, particularly when it comes to healthy stray dogs, because of a lack of funding. Donations have dropped dramatically, which is unsurprising and understandable giving the Current Economic Climate*. I’m sure most other charities are facing similar problems.

Angel working at the Dublin SPCA

Angel hard at work at reception of the DSPCA

So back to Christmas and the charitable spirit it inspires in many of us. Giving is about more than just money. I’m sure to many charities the gift of time is just as valuable as the gift of money. The DSPCA rely heavily on volunteers to run the shelter and I am lucky to have the time to donate one morning a week to them. But time is another luxury most people don’t have to give.

Hang in there, there is a point to all this.

If you can’t afford to donate time or money, there are other ways of giving charitable donations. At any time of the year.

The pond at the Dublin SPCAThe DSPCA have a wish list on their website of supplies that they need to help run the shelter. This includes dog and cat toys to help stimulate the animals, as animal mental health is so important. They also use a large amount of newspapers in the cattery to line the litter trays. Old (untorn) towels are also vital to help keep the place clean and dry as all kennels, pods and every surface is cleaned daily with disinfectant to keep it clean and the animals healthy. (It is after all essentially a working animal hospital.) Nappy bags are also used in huge amounts for – scooping the poop, as it were. The list goes on and on, many of them items you might have lying around at home unused.

A foster kitten at the DSPCA being bottle fed

A foster kitten at the DSPCA

Oxfam Ireland launched a campaign in November 2011 called Make Space for Oxfam to highlight Oxfam’s shops urgent need for donations. Over the past year donations to Oxfam shops have reduced by up to 40% and stock levels are now critical in many shops. I’m sure this is the same for practically every charity shop.

St. Vincent de Paul run a food appeal and Giving Tree every year. I’ve seen areas set up in many shopping centres where you can donate an extra gift you have bought. From memory they are often looking for gifts for teenage boys. For me, if I buy 3 for 2 in Boots or somewhere I try to give the third (free) item to charity and it technically doesn’t cost me anything.

Do anything, just do something

If there is a charity you are particularly interested in, why not contact them to see if they have a similar wishlist. Or if you know of any other charities that take non-monetary donations please mention them in the comments.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Mia wearing her Christmas coat*My official Most Overused Phrase of 2011.

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