As I write this it is five weeks to Christmas and thoughts of preparing for this wonderful time of year are creeping into my day. It is easy to get distracted with the “busyness” of Christmas and the ways we prepare for it. We make the extra effort to gather with friends, family, work colleagues. We make our “to do” lists. A list of Christmas cards to write. The baking list. Thoughts of new and different gifts that reflect love, care and thoughtfulness. The Christmas letter to prepare full of all the year’s doings (it might be a short letter this year). Christmas – such a happy time full of celebration.
2020 has been a most unusual year with the restrictions of Covid-19, financial and health impacts for some and isolation for all of us. Some in our community face these challenges every day, relentlessly. The homeless, the poor, the sick and otherwise disadvantaged members of our community know isolation, insecurity and uncertainty. For them troubles are not temporarily to be endured. They are a way of life.
When you support a charity or a social cause you find that this becomes a part of your story. You form a connection. Finding an appropriate giving project presents a challenge. There are so many charities imploring us to donate money. You need to decide your cause and decide your gift – donation, patronage, time or even prayer. No matter what cause you are hoping to support or how you support it, you will feel that connection.
From buying a Christmas tree or Christmas cards or gifts to financially support a charity, here are a few ways you may like to consider supporting a cause:
- Asylum Seeker Resource Centre – there are many different ways you can support the work of the centre to empower refugees and asylum seekers including donating money, providing food or material goods or buying ASRC merchandise.
- Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project (BASP) – help BASP house and support asylum seekers and refugees in the Australian Community by donating money, groceries, household goods, gift cards or volunteer your time.
- Caritas Australia – support families struggling with poverty and injustice by bringing hope and joy to the world’s most vulnerable. Choose a Global Gift – the gift of education, the gift of food or a gift of protection.
- CatholicCare Giving Tree Appeal – this Christmas the aim of CatholicCare is to deliver hampers to 500 families and individuals throughout the Greater Melbourne, Geelong and Gippsland areas. Funds raised beyond the need for hampers will go towards vital services that support at risk families and individuals.
- Opening the Doors Foundation – help support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Victoria with educational funding by purchasing Christmas ornaments made from Australian timbers.
- St Vincent de Paul Christmas Appeal – help to uphold the dignity of families at Christmas by donating to provide food on the table, help cover utility bills and provide essential goods, help give families the comfort and security of a home. When donating online remember to note your parish SVDP Conference as Deepdene/Balwyn Conference, Camberwell Conference or Surrey Hills 393 Conference.
The Advent season is a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. It is a time for us to prepare to do Christian deeds. A time to connect with family and friends. A time to connect with and help our community, particularly those less fortunate.
Perhaps this advent could be an opportunity for the world to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation to recover kindness, not just among those who are our family and friends but with the whole human family. Here in Fratelli Tutti he explains what this might mean:
Kindness frees us from the cruelty that at times infects human relationships, from the anxiety that prevents us from thinking of others, from the frantic flurry of activity that forgets that others also have a right to be happy. Often nowadays we find neither the time nor the energy to stop and be kind to others, to say “excuse me”, “pardon me”, “thank you”. Yet every now and then, miraculously, a kind person appears and is willing to set everything else aside in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen amid general indifference. If we make a daily effort to do exactly this, we can create a healthy social atmosphere in which misunderstandings can be overcome and conflict forestalled. Kindness ought to be cultivated; it is no superficial bourgeois virtue. Precisely because it entails esteem and respect for others, once kindness becomes a culture within society it transforms lifestyles, relationships and the ways ideas are discussed and compared. Kindness facilitates the quest for consensus; it opens new paths where hostility and conflict would burn all bridges. (Fratellii Tutti 224)
By Kate Baines