December 6, 2013 3.04 pm This story is over 95 months old

There are always ways to help at Christmas

Gift of giving: Kate Taylor writes that it’s not only friends and family you can send a bit of Christmas cheer to.

Tuesday this week I received a phone call off of my good friend Holly. She asked me if I could hear Santa outside. I at this point presumed she was with her young daughter and thus in the spirit of things said yes, yes I can hear his bells now. “No Kate I’m being serious! I can hear Santa! He’s coming down the street!”

As it happened, me and the children were in the garden stargazing, and we heard the distant echoes of carol singing. Upon deciding to venture out like a Scott expedition, we rounded the corner and saw an amazing spectacle in the middle of the road, it WAS Santa!

I have since apologised to Holly for doubting her acute sense of hearing and knowledge of all things Christmas related, her namesake fits her well. Yes, Santa was out on a brightly lit sleigh towed by a car playing various seasonal music. Aside from the shock, awe and delight (from both me and the children) I noticed just how much effort had been put into the whole affair so went to investigate. After managing to speak to an elf in a high-vis jacket, I found out that this event was run by the Hykeham Lions, a charity organisation linked with Lions International.

Lions International was set up in 1968 to provide humanitarian aid to those in need. From disaster relief to youth projects, they are a globally renowned organisation that continues to help millions today. The Hykeham branch has been going out in the winter season with Father Christmas for over twenty years, bringing smiles to hundreds of children in local neighbourhoods whilst raising money for local charities.

This Saturday, they will be at the North Hykeham branch of Asda, where shoppers can say hello to the team and meet the man himself, there after continuing their rounds nightly until December 21. A list of their routes can be found on the website.

Lions International is a non-political, non-religious organisation, though others who are still believe in full diversity. The Salvation Army are a Christian-based charity that continues to grow, with thousands of volunteers of various backgrounds, religion, race and sexual orientation — as they state on their website “We find no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for any reason.”

This year, they will be opening the doors of their centres nationwide to help the homeless and disadvantaged. They also created the “Christmas Card Off” scheme, whereby you can sign an online e-card to be sent to those alone over the holidays to let them know someone cares.

Another charity you may remember from years gone by is Operation Christmas Child, better known as the shoebox charity. Each year the public can pack shoe-boxes full of toys, sweets, educational and hygiene items to be sent to a disadvantaged child. Guidelines can be found on their website, as well as the option to send a pre-packed box from their headquarters if you don’t have time to do one yourself.

People say it’s the thought that counts, and while we run around on the count down to the 25th making everything perfect, spare a thought for those that may not have the opportunity. Not only will families in the UK be struggling more than ever this year, but the children of Gaza, Belarus and other war-torn, poverty stricken countries will be lucky to have a roof over their heads, or a parent to hold.

This year my children (aged two and six) will be receiving an envelope on Christmas day telling them what presents Santa has given to children who aren’t so lucky on their behalf. Me and my daughter have spent the evening online choosing various animals to send to third-world farmers via Send A Cow. Even at such a young age, our offspring understand the concept of giving to others, however inconsequential a rag doll or a couple of pounds may be to us, it can make someone else’s world.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re celebrating and whomever you’re with, remember there is always help available, and there are always ways to help. Have a very, merry Christmas readers, and I will see you in the New Year!

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Kate Taylor is a sociologist, mother and tea and cake lover. When not working in sociological and marketing research with her company, Galilee Research, Kate can be found talking about political philosophy on the school run.