Reverse Advent Calendar - Day 1 & 2

Sunday, December 02, 2018

What is a reverse advent calendar?

Normally you would find yourself opening a door on a calendar each day throughout December and finding yourself a little treat. A reverse calendar is exactly that but the opposite. Instead of getting that little treat you give back and in our case, we are giving to our local food bank. Rhun is now on a dairy free diet (I'm yet to fill you in about that!) and the price of a dairy free advent calendar is quite pricey. It's very rare he eats chocolate but will have a square of dairy-free, low sugar chocolate if he has been a superstar. It seemed silly us introducing a calendar as we didn't want him to start expecting chocolate each day, it's not something he is used to and not something I wanted to introduce either, regardless of how many millions do it.

I mentioned the idea of giving to the food bank and explained that there are people out there who don't always have pennies for food, toilet roll or even toys. He seemed excited about digging into his toy box and searching for toys he just doesn't play with anymore to give to the other little girls and boys. He managed to sort out 25 different toys to donate to those who don't have much. He's always been very good at sharing and we regularly donate old toys to charity shops throughout the year but tied in with the reverse advent and he seemed keen to get stuck in.

He understands very well that he is a lucky boy to have nice things, shoes, hats and toys when some people just don't have any of those. After living in Huddersfield for the last year he had seen the devastating amount of people living on the streets and understood the conditions that they lived in, many in sleeping bags, some in tents, some with nothing but a thin jumper and a cardboard box to sit on. We try and do as much as possible for organisations and charities to help those in need and he understands that buying someone a hot drink or thinking of others before ourselves is a very important thing and can make someone very happy. He knows the importance of sharing and charity work as it's something I've always been passionate about, giving and not taking. 

We decided we would take a trip to the shops daily to let Rhun choose an item we could donate. To give an idea of the cost we have decided that we would budget for no more than 50 pence a day, which would amount to £15.50 for the total cost for December as a whole at the biggest cost, obviously if some of our items are only half that amount daily we will be at a lesser total at the end of the month, I'll do a total cost at the end of the month. When you look at it in the big scheme of things a tin of peas costs just 19p and you can also opt for supermarket own brands to cut costs even further. That tin of peas will go towards a meal for a family and all donations are greatly received big or small. We will also be including some toiletries but I will go and purchase these the 3 days Rhun is at preschool so I can work out what items best to purchase. The food banks also include items such as fabric softener and washing powder so if donated in big bottles/wash sizes they usually decant 3 days worth into smaller bottles and give out as they feel necessary. I want to include a variety of items and not just food as I know there will also be people out there with younger children so I will be on the lookout for budget baby items, wipes etc to include in our package.

Day 1 - Hotdogs 
"because everyone loves hotdogs"

Day 2 - Peas, Rhun had some for his dinner so thought someone else might want some for theirs too.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've had to rely on food banks once or twice in the past, having found myself homeless 3 times and not in a financial position to meet my basic needs they have been a godsend and I truly appreciate the help that is out there. 1 in 5 of the UK population live below the poverty line - I know, I've been there. Last year alone (2017/2018) our local food bank 2251 three-day emergency food supplies were given to help people in crisis.

If you aren't familiar with food banks then just take a quick second to read below what they can offer someone/families who are struggling and if you wanted to take on this advent concept it may also help you with what you could include in your donations.

Every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. A simple box of food makes a big difference, with foodbanks helping prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems. Schools, churches, businesses and individuals donate non-perishable, in-date food to a foodbank. Large collections often take place as part of Harvest Festival celebrations and food is also collected at supermarkets.

Volunteers sort food to check that it’s in date and pack it into boxes ready to be given to people in need. Over 40,000 people give up their time to volunteer at foodbanks.

Foodbanks partner with a wide range of care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers and police to identify people in crisis and issue them with a foodbank voucher.

Foodbank clients bring their voucher to a foodbank centre where it can be redeemed for three days’ emergency food. Volunteers meet clients over a warm drink or free hot meal and are able to signpost people to agencies able to solve the longer-term problem.

Food banks provide a minimum of three-days’ nutritionally balanced, non-perishable tinned and dried foods. Here are some ideas of things to go in to your donation:

  • Cereal
  • Soup
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Pasta sauce
  • Beans
  • Tinned meat
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Tea/coffee
  • Tinned fruit
  • Biscuits
Non-food items are also welcomed:

  • Toiletries – deodorant, toilet paper, shower gel, shaving gel, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, tooth paste, hand wipes
  • Household items – laundry liquid detergent, laundry powder, washing up liquid

It's the season of giving and we are very excited to be taking part in this reverse advent, it really does teach children about giving and not receiving, teaches them about being fortunate enough to be able to have the daily essentials we often take for granted.

I posted these two photos on a facebook group earlier today and was absolutely overwhelmed by the comments, it really did bring tears to my eyes. For something so small which we are doing now (a daily activity throughout December for the Rhun) will mean such a big difference to someone who is less fortunate in our local community. Facebook now has a link option available where people can donate to your charitable cause if you choose to publish it in your post, after doing this yesterday 2 lovely and generous people donated £5 each to it through our post, how amazing is that! It might not seem like a lot but you can purchase quite a lot on a budget if you really put your mind to it and as they are non-perishable items they won't go off before the food banks have time to donate to those in need. That £10 which was donated directly to our local food bank is most of our December budget so it just goes to show a little goes a long way.

I really am overwhelmed by the support and comments I've received since posting this on social media yesterday, to me, it seemed the normal thing to do as giving to charity is something I do quite often but others have never heard of food banks so it has been an eye opener for others.

If you don’t know where your local food bank is, you will find a collection box in most of your local supermarkets with details of your nearest one. You don't even have to purchase items from that supermarket you can just go in and donate whatever you have as they are usually in the doorways/exits.

I will be updating this blog daily with our donation of the day and at the end of the month, I'll run a total shopping list and costs per item so you can see what we've bought and how much it's cost us.

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