So I’m not going to lie, I am a sucker for a ‘chugger’ (‘charity -mugger’ as they are so affectionately known on the Uk streets). In case you don’t know who I mean, they are the people that you see in your local shopping and town centres throwing out affection in the hopes that someone will stop and listen to their 1 minute long PSA on the plethora of charities 2017 has to offer. Usually they come in pairs and have some sort of attire emblazoned with a well-known logo of an organisation you have heard of but know not so much about. My husband used to flat out ignore them until I reminded him that they are humans and not shadows and deserve at least some acknowledgement.
Having dabbled in a two year long foray into the world of charity door knocking when I was 19, I realised just how hard it is to stand out in the cold for hours, trying to entice people to speak to you with nothing more than your face. In my case, it was doing that, whilst trying to encourage them to let you into their house and sit with them for 45 minutes explaining every nuance of the charity that you’d spent weeks learning about and had come to love. Find me in the street with a smile and you can guarantee I will probably sign up to whatever it is you’re supporting.
These days, you don’t really get much in the way of charity door knockers, but I seem to get a lot of charity donation bags through my door instead. Now they used to annoy me. Given my experience with charitable organisations, I spent a lot of time delving into the ins and outs of every charity that accepted donations. A major USP for the charities I worked with was that their administration fees were minimal and their CEO’s weren’t driving Bentley’s sitting on their 6 figure salaries. Far be it from me to decide how anyone does charitable work (anything is better than nothing) but I know a lot of people would rather know or see where their hard earned spondoolees are going and sometimes the lack of transparency makes it hard to give. The more you work with charities, the more you know about them, but if you don’t it can be hard to have that desire.
However, all is not lost, I am here to help. Cue my annual: ‘Get rid of the shit you don’t need and give it to someone who does’.
Since having my smallest and only tiny human womb fruit love muffin, I have become obsessed (and I absolutely do not use that word lightly) with doing everything and anything I can to give back to people who may not have what I have been able to provide for him. Babies are EXPENSIVE. Well the actual baby isn’t expensive on the NHS but all the stuff that comes with them before they’re born could see you spending THOUSANDS.
Before the stork drops them off on your doorstep, you’re told all the things they need and you rush out to buy all of these beautiful fantastic bells and whistles that will sometimes remain in the packaging, still have the tags on or you’ll use once and then never use again. These are the things that sit in the cupboard and you take them for granted thinking ‘why did I buy that?’ I went through three different brands of bottles, had hundreds of leftover nappies, unopened tins of formula, hats, gloves and blankets. I worked hard for everything that I got my tiny and my house went from rivalling a Mothercare/Mamas and Papas showroom to a miniature V-Tech Baby Factory. I used to think a lot of things we didn’t use anymore were bin worthy until I changed the narrative. There are parents out there who would love to have the things that some of us take for but they simply didn’t have the means to do so (through no fault of their own of course). Off I went with my tiny human, loaded up my car and scooted off to Leeds Baby Bank complete with other essential items I never got around to using.
That became a regular thing and the charity bags that used to annoy me, became full to bursting with things from mine and my husband’s wardrobes. Now my husband is a hoarder. He has this orange (apparently its salmon pink) jumper that he’s had for like a decade. He’s 30. He cannot bare to part with it and despite his wardrobe being full to bursting there are just certain things he cannot part with. Have you ever known someone have 37 checked shirts? Look no further, you’ve found him.
Every year without fail, as a family we always do something charitable around Christmas, whether it be a large monetary donation, a donation to a charity shop or a RAOK (random act of kindness). My aim to teach my small human, that Christmas isn’t just about receiving, it’s about giving, community spirit and kindness. What I have planned for this year, that I’m proud to say that I have Punky Moms on board with, is a Winter Harvest. I decided that from November to December, every time I went to a supermarket, I would buy “ONE EXTRA THING”. I capitalised that because I may patent it in future.
Now I don’t have a Money Tree (har har) in my back garden so I’ve limited myself to spending no more than £20 alongside my regular clothing donation.
The plan is this and I’d love for you to all do it to:
- Do your weekly, monthly, (daily if you’re me) trip to your local supermarket
- Just before you go to the till, add in one extra thing of something you already have with the thought that you’re going to put these items together in a pretty little box for a family somewhere around the country.
- Pay for your shopping
- Repeat all steps until December 10th
- Post to the Punky Mom who is heading up the collection in your local area/deliver to your local food bank
Simple! The plan for my little parcel of love is to do a self-care pack. As parents, we often don’t take time out for ourselves to have enough self-care. I know in my area, statistically there are more single mothers in receipt of housing benefit and living below the breadline than ever and it only felt right to give something back. I’ve already bought some bath salts and a face mask and I’ll be filling my little box to the brim, ready to deliver in time for Christmas to the Batley Food Bank. A few fellow Punky’s (myself included) will also be doing a massive donation of feminine hygiene products with food banks being in desperate need for them.
You don’t need to spend a lot (a fiver or a tenner), you don’t need to go far, but if you can help by just putting ‘One Extra Thing’ in your trolley then, why wouldn’t you?
P.S. That god awful jumper won’t be going this year but there’s still hope for Christmas 2024.
Lesley is a loud and proud first time mama, raising the next generation of feminist ally in the form of 1 year old Alfie. Together, with her husband Simon, they live in a small village near Leeds. “Intersectional feminism or what the point?” is her family ethos. She enjoys cooking, bargain hunting and smashing the patriarchy one blog post at a time. Follow her adventures on Instagram @journeywithbabya