With the December holidays around the corner, the retailers have already hauled out their stash of Boney M CDs and decorated their shops with green trees, fake white snow and red Father Christmases. The big switch-on of the Christmas lights in Adderley Street is happening this Sunday, and it sounds like an all-day street party is being planned for the centre of town.
Surrounded by all the sales-hype, end-of-year promotions and special offers that are designed exclusively to empty our wallets in a frenzy of gift-buying, and in the flurry of office parties, end-of-year functions and family get-togethers, it is easy to get caught up and to lose sight of the big picture.
I don’t think that the ‘official statistics’ tell the whole story, though, judging from the number of homeless people, street children and beggars on our streets, and the proliferation of self-appointed parking attendants and unofficial car-washers, as well as people hawking bad-quality consumables (plastic bags, toys, sunglasses, car chargers, clothes hangers….) at traffic lights.
There are such stark differences between those who literally have nothing more than the clothes on their back and those who have more clothes in their cupboards than they’ll ever wear. It’s a desperate situation, that becomes particularly hard to bear at a time of year when we are tempted by all manner of persuasive advertising to splurge on things we don’t really need, or to max out our credit cards buying gifts for our family, friends and co-workers – ironically, much of it items they don’t really want or need, and things that’ll probably end up being ‘passed forward’ to others.
So this year, why don’t we all try a different approach?
How about we give some money, some of our time, and some of those items we really don’t use or want any more, to a good cause?
There are so many organisations out there who are desperate to spread around a little Christmas cheer among the homeless, the destitute, the unemployed and the terminally ill:
- Greater Good South Africa has an incredibly long list of NGOs and charities to which you can donate
- GGSA also run an annual event known as Do It Day
- Red Cross Society of SA
- Catholic Welfare and Development have an annual Bucket-of-Love campaign
- Cancer Association of the Western Cape (CANSA)
- St Luke’s Hospice
- The Salvation Army
- Cape Town Society for the Blind
Not to forget all those amazing organisations that look after animals:
- The National SPCA’s website
- Animal Rescue Organisation
- The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS)
- Domestic Animal Rescue Group (DARG)
- Pets as Therapy
- Cart Horse Protection Association
Please spread the word.
And if you don’t get any Christmas presents from me this year, please don’t be mad at me. 🙂