I started writing my local newspaper column a year ago last week, and the topic of that first one was easy to choose – Black Friday. Last year the day was a veritable free-for-all, as people lost their minds to grab a bargain they didn’t really need at the expense of humanity in general. Shoppers were literally climbing over each other to get the last 70 inch TV that was too big for their living room anyway.
This year though, it had a bit of a different feel about it. Perhaps feeling slightly guilty about being largely responsible for the carnage last time, a lot of retailers took the decision not to open in the early hours of the morning, and even where they did, the public themselves seem to have been less bothered about beating their fellow man to the punch.
Instead, Black Friday has now apparently become a long weekend of a pre-Christmas sale, with adverts running on a loop on TV and the Internet awash with offers requiring no physical violence to obtain. Bargains were there to be had, just at a marginally less manic pace.
Maybe this is a sign of the times at the moment. Recent world events have put things into perspective for a lot of people and it suddenly seems hugely inappropriate to be fighting over luxury items when so many others are living in dreadful situations around the world. Maybe we are, subconsciously at least, feeling a little guilty about our relatively privileged lifestyles.
As if to reinforce the point that we should all be looking out for each other a bit more, last week the universe presented me with the perfect opportunity to do a little good. Sitting down at a table in Starbucks at our local big Tesco I found a purse on the floor next to the chair. Can you imagine a worse time of year to lose your purse? I handed it in immediately to the staff at the counter.
A few minutes later, a lady came rushing back in and started looking around my feet in an awful fluster. I asked if she was looking for her purse and that I had handed it in. The relief on her face was just heartwarming and she thanked me profusely, and again on her way out.
Such a simple thing to ensure she got her purse back safely, but I felt so good about it I immediately went into the Tesco store and bought a basketful of tins and packets for the local foodbank which volunteers were collecting for that day. It didn’t cost me much but I knew it would mean a lot to a struggling family.
Now we’re into December, it is a great time to give something back to those less fortunate. Here are a few simple ideas for how you could make a difference:
- Donate to a local foodbank – the Trussell Trust is often collecting in Tesco stores, or you can usually leave donated goods in a designated collection point in participating supermarkets
- Check out Helping Handbags – they provide basic essentials donated in unwanted handbags to homeless women, such as hygiene and sanitary products we would all take for granted
- Give unwanted baby clothes, toys and other items to a local charity shop, or those living in the North East can donate to the Tiny Lives Nearly New Sales, supporting the Special Care Baby Unit at the RVI
- Find out about volunteering opportunities in your area – many local causes will be glad of an extra pair of hands at this time of year, or maybe you could make a regular commitment to help a charity you support
- Buy some charity Christmas cards – easy peasy!
- See if your child’s school PTFA needs any help with festive events, or help them plan for the Spring term
- Get an extra present to donate to schemes collecting them for children who would otherwise go without – Metro Radio Cash For Kids is running the Mission Christmas appeal in the North East
- Ask friends to make a donation to your favourite charity instead of giving you a Christmas card – I’d love a few pounds to go to MAMA Academy if you’d like to text MAMA00 £2 to 70070 🙂
I guarantee you’ll feel as warm inside as I did. What good deeds have you done recently?