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Monday, November 23, 2015

Giving this Christmas

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Christmas is nearly upon us, so I wanted to take this opportunity to blog about some gift-giving ideas. No doubt the bookish amongst us have wish lists to grow our reading pile, and that’s grand – buying books for Christmas is always a marvellous idea! 
But I wanted to let you all know of some truly wonderful charities that could use your help this Christmas, from all of us. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, December is still a time of giving, and these charities need our help and support.  I know there are so many I could mention in this post, but I’ve chosen to highlight four that I proudly support.

Thank you,

This one in particular is for publishers (though donations from individuals are also needed and more than welcome! But they don't accept second hand donations, all must be "new, unwrapped and non-perishable"). I’ve been told that the Melbourne City Mission really needs children’s and young adult books as a priority. I know that as a book blogger I get lots and lots of books kindly provided for free, but I just can’t keep all of them because otherwise I’d be buried under a pile of paperbacks. I do donate books to the likes of the Footpath Library (more on them later), or my grandmother’s nursing home – but this year I’m putting aside all the kids and YA books I can’t keep, and I’ll be sending them on to Melbourne City Mission.

So if there are any publishers out there that always set aside books for donation, or maybe they (sadly) have books to pulp – it’d be great if they could consider donating to the Mission.

There are just a few things to consider when you’re donating books to them;
-       Age range: 10+ and adults
-       Off topic: Poverty, violence, alcohol, drugs, crime, trauma

Please deliver these any time between now and 4 December to:
Melbourne City Mission Christmas Gifts
164-180 Kings Way,
South Melbourne VIC 3205

This is a wonderful community project, committed to ending the detention of child asylum seekers. They could really use some help this Christmas – so if you’re in the market for beautiful Christmas cards – all proceeds go towards helping children in detention.

These cards feature artwork by Australian artist and author, and ‘Befriend a Child’ advocate, Gabrielle Wang! They’re just beautiful, and they’re also a reflection of the Pen Pal project that Befriend a Child also organizes.

Catrina Sofo, Project Volunteer, also stresses that an even better present to a child in detention is to; ‘get in contact with a Member of Parliament and ask them why 112 children remain in Australian detention centres, whilst another 95 languishing in Nauru. You might also ask them to explain why the average time a person is kept detained has now increased to 434 days (with the majority held for more than 730 days), despite all that we know about how traumatising detention is for all people, especially children. This will do so much for the long-term goal of changing refugee policy in the country.’ Amen.

This is one of my favourite organisations; ‘The Footpath Library aims to enrich the quality of life for homeless people, encourage literacy and promote a society that is well informed about homelessness.’

I recently asked some questions of Founder Sarah Garnett, for a freelance piece I’m working on. I asked her specifically about what the organization needs this Christmas. This is what she said to me:

‘Believe it or not, we don’t need books!  We have more books than clients thanks to the generosity of publishers and the general public.  What we do need are donations to help us deliver our service – every book costs us $11 to deliver.  And that one book can change the life of a child who is living in crisis accommodation with no possessions, or a young man who wants to return to study, or someone battling an addiction or depression who just wants to escape into a good story.  The Footpath Library’s running costs are $130,000 per year…. not much when you consider we deliver 28,000 books annually and we service the big charities like St Vincent de Paul, Mission Australia and the Salvation Army.  So please consider The Footpath Library if you are thinking of donating to a charity this Christmas!’

Donate here.

This is another wonderful organisation that does such grand work, and there are a few ways you can celebrate them.

The ILF sell some beautiful products – including books! – that would make pretty awesome Christmas presents. And then depending on if you want to help them out as an individual, as a drive in your school community, or if you’re a publishing house that can give a little – the ILF have ways for all of us to help them out.

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