Finding the right Christmas charity for you

A message from the Save the Children's Christmas page

A message from the Save the Children’s Christmas page

Christmas is the time of year when so many of us want to give to others who would otherwise go without. Liz Jarvis from The Mum Blog talks about choosing a charity that fits with her philosophy.

A few years ago, Rosie Shelley and I were invited to visit UNICEF’s headquarters in Copenhagen, where we saw the ‘inspired gifts’ paid for by donations being prepared for distribution around the world. These included life-saving vaccines, peanut paste for malnourished children, and emergency gifts for families who had lost everything. What better way to teach kids about the true spirit of Christmas?

There are many charities running worthwhile projects. A big part of getting involved is researching and selecting the ones that are right for you.

I can still remember the time my son and I put together our first shoe box of gifts for the Operation Christmas Child appeal.  Knowing the child receiving it wouldn’t be able to read English, we put in a little picture book – The Snowman; a soft toy of the Raymond Briggs character; and a game.  We definitely got that warm, fuzzy feeling thinking about the fact we were doing something for a disadvantaged child living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, and I happily covered the box in pretty wrapping paper.

At the time, I didn’t realise that there would be religious literature distributed with the shoeboxes, and I wasn’t aware that the scheme was run by Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical organisation with a controversial leader. When I found out, a few years back, I decided to look for other charities for my family to support at Christmas. (Editor’s note: Last year the BritMums blog featured a guest post from Mummy from the Heart about her experience with Operation Christmas Child. BritMums blogger Glosswitch has written her thoughts about OCC this week in the New Statesman.)

Of course, the advantage of Google is that you can research charities and giving programmes, reading reports and press cuttings from respected sources, and make an informed decision about those you choose to support.

Christmas is perhaps the optimum time to encourage children to think about others less fortunate than themselves – but the charity you decide to support together has to be one you find ethically acceptable and that you’re completely comfortable with, until your kids are old enough to make these decisions themselves.

The good news is that there are many fantastic ways to get kids mobilised into helping to give Christmas gifts to those less fortunate than themselves.

A blogging initiative: Save the Children Christmas Gifts Wish List

If you’d like to be part of a blogging initiative, then this year a group of parent bloggers are supporting the Save The Children Christmas gifts wish list: £5 buys an art set for kids traumatised by disaster; £10 buys warm clothes for those trying to survive desperately cold winters; £30 buys a wheelchair for a disabled child; and I’m sure we can all think of heaps of ideas to raise money for bigger gifts which utilise our kids’ creativity (as well as our own — all that Great British Bake Off watching should definitely help).

Want to get involved? Write a blog post, share it on the link below, and use the hashtag #Christmasgifts on Twitter so as many people as possible can see how you and your kids are planning to make a difference this year. And why not let your school and other parents know what you’re doing, too? You never know, they might decide to join in. Here’s to the true spirit of Christmas.

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About Jennifer Howze

Jennifer Howze is the Creative Director and co-founder of BritMums. She blogs about family travel at, tweets at @JHowze and Instagrams at @JHowze. Previously, she wrote the Alpha Mummy blog at The Times and as a journalist has contributed to The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel,, Allure, SELF and Premiere, among others. She won The Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for a health article in Seventeen magazine.

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3 Responses to Finding the right Christmas charity for you

  1. Vikki 25 October 2013 at 19:14 #

    Post Pals asks people to send a card to seriously ill child to make them smile

  2. Mamacook 28 October 2013 at 19:19 #

    I was really interested in learning about OCC too as I wasn’t aware until recently. I do give at Christmas, to something close to my heart but also I have a philosophy on giving that whenever I face a minor setback, I take a moment, take stock and realise it could have been a major one so find an appropriate charity to donate to. This isn’t actually as altruistic as it sounds as it helps me to get over the setback as well as helping the charity. Might sound crazy to everyone else but it makes sense to me.

    Anyway, my point was, to steal a concept for a moment, that charity is for life not just for Christmas. Christmas can be the time of year when budgets are most stretched.


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    […] are hosting a linky for any bloggers posting about the Save the Children Wish List, do add yours if you decide this way of giving to charity at […]