Bright coloured paper and silky ribbons, gift tags and glitter; the lead up to Christmas can turn our homes into mini Santa’s workshops as we scramble to get our gifts wrapped and under the tree on time. A tradition referring back to a very silent night and three famous kings –can sometimes get a little lost in translation.
You see, the real Christmas ethos behind giving is kindness; yes, 3 (wise) men travelled miles away from their homes to family unbeknown to them alone in the desert, offering comfort and kindness during a time of desperation – A tradition that Home Club would like to rekindle in all of us this time of the year.
If you’ve lived in the UAE for any amount of time, then you’ll know that charitable donations come tangled in law, but the act of giving is not only about donating, it’s about making a difference.
Thrift for Good
With a mission to rehome preloved items to reduce waste and help children around the world, the organisation Thrift for Good offers opportunities to declutter your wardrobe against an in-store voucher. Or you can gift your time and help keep their initiatives up and running through many of their volunteer opportunities.
The UAE boasts more than 650 km of sandy shoreline with tourists in the millions flocking to enjoy them all year round – making opportunities for industrial clean-ups a difficult task. To protect our marine life and contribute to our UAE home, gather the family for a beach clean up – just grab a sack for collection, some rubber gloves and your sunscreen and consider a Christmas morning beach walk with meaning.
Not Just for Xmas: Dogs
Get out of the city and connect with nature and ‘mans best friend’ through volunteer dog walks. The UAQ Stray Dog Centre is a private animal shelter that was established in 2013 and relies solely on public support to operate. Every year on Christmas Eve, they host a Christmas Party for their doggies, the entry fee is 50AED which goes towards a mounting vet bill for the Centre. Whilst you get to enjoy the sheer joy of pattering paws in free runs and play. Learn about more opportunities via their Instagram page @straydogscentre
Heroes of Hope
Heroes of Hope is a not-for-profit group that aim to develop sporting, social and interpersonal skills for people of determination. If you’ve got an active kid or two at home, they might be interested in joining their Junior Coach program that includes training, giving young adults valuable experience, as well as making meaningful connections. You can contact them through their online form here.
Rags to Riches
This group of passionate people put their sewing, knitting, crochet, quilting and crafting hobbies to good use by up-cycling preloved bed linen, fleece blankets and fabrics into dresses, shirts, shorts, hoodies, track-bottoms which they donate to orphanages and refugee camps around the world. There are many ways to get involved that don’t necessarily require garment-making skills such as fabric cutting, registering as a drop-off location for donations, or sorting and packing. Find out how here and keep up with their social here.
Give the Gift of Friendship
As we get older, our families move on, our friends are no longer around and the world changes faster than we can keep up with. The organisation Silver Connect in the UK provides global volunteer opportunities to support the elderly over the phone. As a volunteer, you will undergo thorough training and must be able to commit to volunteering for at least 10 hours a month, for at least a year. You can be based anywhere as long as you have a computer with an internet connection, as well as a telephone (mobile or landline). Read more here.
Spare a Chair
There are many ex-pats and migrant workers stuck in the UAE without a family unit, friends or a reason to celebrate this festive period. Start a new tradition in your family of opening your homes and inviting an unexpected guest to your dinner table or for Christmas nibbles this year. You may be surprised that you didn’t have to look too far to find a new ‘friend’, but it’s worth reaching out on your Facebook Community groups to get the word out and also inspire others.
If you haven’t done all your Christmas shopping yet, then consider buying from a small business and supporting your local community through such difficult times. There are tonnes of artisans, service providers and restaurants who don’t have the backing of major money behind them. When you buy from a small business you’re not helping Bezos buy another superyacht, you’re helping a little girl get dance lessons, or a mum and dad put food on the table.
Start a Tradition of Kindness
On boxing day, once all the new toys have been unwrapped and devoured by hungry eyes full of wonder, suggest to your little one to donate one of their older toys to make adequate room for the new ones and to gift the joy of a new toy to another little kid this festive season. Holidays are an easy way of creating new traditions that turn into family philosophies that last throughout the year. Here are a few places taking donations: Beit Al Kheir, Al Noor Special Needs, Dubai Center for Special Needs and you can donate books to The Old Library.
Give the Gift of Life
Hospitals across the UAE work tirelessly across the holiday period to protect, comfort and cure. An essential tool for their success is blood donations. They rely year-round on donations of all blood types and anyone donation can save 3-4 poorly people. They specifically need blood from healthy people between the ages of 18-65. Find out more about where and how to donate blood in the UAE here.
If you know of other opportunities to make a difference this festive period then please write them in the comments. If you get involved in any of the initiatives above and are comfortable sharing your experience to encourage more to take part then tag us on social media @homeclubme.
We wish you all a happy holiday filled with love, kindness and giving.