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WE OFTEN TALK ABOUT giving during Christmastime, and there’s nothing wrong with giving presents and showing others you care for them. But perhaps it is time for us to go beyond gifts, and think about giving back to society and community.

Here are some meaningful ways you can give back this season.

1. Donate

We have to admit that many of us in Singapore have more than what we truly need. If you have been thinking of donating some of your possessions, now is a good time to start! Whether it is household supplies for migrant workers living in shelters or donating baby-related to help ease the financial and emotional burdens of young mothers, there are a wide variety of ways you can contribute to those in need.

If you prefer to give financially, there are countless needs all around us: internationally and locally. To help the people Aleppo and the escalating crisis in Syria, here are some ways to contribute. Choose to give financially to the millions of people who still do not have access to clean drinking water or who live without proper sanitation. From pets to the intellectually disabled, there are also many causes for you to invest your money into social good closer to home.

Donating Surplus Food

As a bakery and cafe, food is naturally on our minds. We want to highlight the work of The Food Bank Singapore, who collects unwanted yet perfectly fit-to-eat food and provides it to organisations and people in need. Food wastage is a big issue in Singapore. Just last year, food waste amounted to a staggering 788,600 tonnes-that’s 108 double-decker buses worth!

healthy-food-bundle_food bank
(Image from The Food Bank Singapore)

Contribute by making a deposit of canned food or dried goods at the various Bank Boxes around Singapore. Alternatively, you can adopt a Bank Box, which you can place at home or in your office to allow others to contribute their unopened and unexpired goods. Visit their website to find out more.


2. Choosing Socially Conscious Gifts

Since many of us will be searching to find the perfect gift this season, why not choose one that makes a difference as well? There are plenty of companies that produce quality goods and take on big inequalities and noticeable causes at the same time.

band collage
(Top: Conscious Step’s gift box: Conscious Collection: Books, Water, Poverty; bottom: Matter‘s Sideswept Dhoti collection)

For instance, US-based Conscious Step sells high quality cotton socks which are matched to key issues in the fight against poverty, such as providing safe water or treating HIV. A little closer to home, local brand, Matter creates “pants to see the world in”, using artisan printed and loomed fabric. They collaborate with artisans in India, creating modern fashion pieces with time-honoured techniques like ikat, jamdani and block printing. This in turn supports the artisan communities and helps conserve their native crafts. For more ideas on gifts that give back, head over here and here.


3. Volunteer

Since we live in an increasingly busy society, the year-end is as good a time as any to slow down. While you’re at it, why not pick a cause close to your heart and volunteer some time and effort for the betterment of others?

(Images from Willing Hearts Singapore)

We suggest volunteering your time with Willing Hearts, a secular soup kitchen we have been supporting over the years. They prepare, cook and distribute about 5,000 daily meals to the needy in Singapore. They are open daily and run wholly by volunteers who prepare the ingredients, pack lunch boxes and clean up the kitchen. Visit their website to find out how you can get involved. For more opportunities to volunteer locally, visit the Giving.sg online portal, run by by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre.


4. Starting Small – One Act of Kindness at a Time

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
– Mother Teresa

At the end of the day, it is not just the grand gestures that make a difference. Random acts of kindness work just fine. It can be as simple as showing you appreciate your parents, anticipating what your loved one needs before he or she even articulates it or buying a sweet treat for a colleague who’s stressed out. After all, it’s these small surprises that make our day, isn’t it?
(Image from Charity: Water)

We really like Charity: Water‘s simple suggestion to ‘pledge your birthday‘ to raise money for clean water instead of receiving gifts. If you’re feeling uninspired, head over to Food52 to explore 50 over ways you can help a loved one (or a stranger) this festive season.
(Image from Food52)

Get Inspired

THIS IS JUST THE TIP of the iceberg! There are so many opportunities and worthy causes you can get involved in. All in all, we hope that reading this will get you inspired to act thoughtfully and bless others meaningfully this season – there’s plenty of good to go around.

“Help one another;
there’s no time like the present
and no present like the time.”

— James Durst