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Make a difference in your neighbourhood this Christmas

Christmas can be a time of joy, sharing and coming together. But for some, it can also be stressful or lonely. The purpose of Nabo is to help neighbours connect and share their experiences and grow stronger communities, and Christmas is a great time to make this happen. From connecting with a neighbour to donating your time, we've got the ways you can make life a bit better for others over the holidays.
 

LEND A HELPING HAND

From volunteering at a community Christmas party in Western Australia to sorting toy donations in Victoria, there are many ways you can help. A great place to find out what charities and community groups near you are looking for is govolunteer.com.au - enter your location, the distance you’re happy to travel, and the keyword Christmas, to find local opportunities. Many of these don’t require any special skills, just time.


DONATE THE THINGS YOU NO LONGER NEED

If you’re doing a clean-up over the holidays – or you receive Christmas presents you won’t use but would like to see find a good home – there are charities all over Australia in need of everything from books to bikes. GiveNow is an online platform that lists a wide range of small and large not-for-profit Australian organisations and groups, facilitating donations of money or specific items. For the latter, the site is organised by donation type, so you can look for a place that needs what you have to give. That includes furniture, books, food, stamps, blankets and bikes.  Failing that, you can use Nabo’s ‘Free to a good home’ section and help a local neighbour who may be in need.


FIND A CAUSE IN YOUR COMMUNITY

“Australians are naturally generous to the communities they feel connected to - the community can be geographically local, niche in content or intense in their passion,” says a spokesperson for GiveNow, which has facilitated almost $82 million dollars in donations over the past 17 years. And December is when Australians make an extra effort to help others: GiveNow’s records, for example, show one-off donations spike twice a year, at June (tax time) and December. ChangePath is another place to find a charity that fits your interests and location – answer a short list of questions, including your state, and the site will generate a list of not-for-profits from 900+ organisations, rated by transparency and financial stability. You could also post in your Nabo suburb hub for suggestions from your neighbours for local charities.


GIVE A CHRISTMAS MEAL

Can’t help in person? You can put food on the table for someone less fortunate by donating a meal, or a food hamper. “More than half a million Australians will struggle to put anything on the table this Christmas, let alone something special,” says Brianna Casey, CEO of Foodbank, Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation. Project Rudolph is a joint project by Foodbank and delivery service Aussie Farmers Direct. Order a Project Rudolph Christmas meal box on the Aussie Farmers Direct website by Friday 16 December and FoodBank will deliver these across Australia, including regional Australia. The Salvation Army also distributes food hampers across Australia to people struggling to afford food. You can help fill their Christmas hampers by donating non-perishable items with long expiry dates – donations can be made until 18 December, and you can find more information and drop-off locations here.

Many local charities provide Christmas meals for the homeless. While volunteering to serve meals is a popular way to make a difference at Christmas, many of those roles are filled well in advance (GoVolunteer lists some places that are still looking for help). However, groups providing meals need donations right up until Christmas. In Sydney, for example, a $25 donation to the Wayside Chapel’s Donate A Plate program provides a Christmas meal for an adult or child living on the streets. The charity will provide around 6000 meals over the holiday period.


CONTRIBUTE TO AUSTRALIA'S LONGEST-RUNNING GIFT APPEAL

Kmart’s Wishing Tree Appeal has been running for 30 years, and has helped distribute more than eight million gifts. You can drop a gift (for children or adults) to your local Kmart store until Christmas Eve and the gifts are distributed to those in need by the Salvation Army. The gift doesn’t have to be purchased at Kmart, and it doesn’t need to be wrapped. You can also make a cash donation by collecting a tag from the Wishing Tree in your local store and scanning it at the register, or by clicking the Wishing Tree logo on self-serve checkouts. Kmart also has three, free Wishing Tree puzzle/colouring in sheets for children available to download from the Wishing Tree page. Other national retail chains with Christmas appeals include Woolworths (in partnership with Ozharvest) and Coles (in association with national cancer charity Redkite).


SHARE A SMILE, SAY HELLO

Research released by the Salvation Army last year showed that more than 850,000 Australians feel lonely at Christmas. Organising a get-together with your neighbours, or just making an effort to smile and say hello, can help. We love the story recounted by a Nabo member in this year’s Christmas survey. After moving to a new area last year, he asked some locals about their most memorable Christmas. “My neighbour said this was his best. No neighbour had ever invited him in to their house before. He was 62 and lived in the house he was born in. We have become good friends since.”


Do you need help this Christmas? You can find details of the Salvation Army’s range of support services at Christmas, including festive meals across Australia, here. 24-hour support telephone support services are also available from Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 and Lifeline 13 11 14. Beyond Blue also has an online Christmas/New Year forum group specifically for people who are feeling isolated, stressed or alone over the holiday period.

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