Throughout the year, thousands of volunteers give their time and care across the Sunshine Coast for charities, schools and community groups, demonstrating that the spirit of giving is always alive and not reliant on the season.
I’m always impressed by their enthusiasm and expertise, as so many volunteers have boundless experience from all walks of life and often do all they do for the sense of belonging and achievement, not simply to fill their time. Giving is its own reward for many.
I love the festive feel of Christmas and the promise of new beginnings as a new year approaches. I am up for carols at our local church, neighbourhood tours of houses festooned with lights and the madness of a shopping centre still open at midnight.
My child has grown up in a home that resembles a Christmas shop when the decorations go up and is brainwashed by songs from long-gone crooners into imagining that Santa Claus just might bring him a snowball or a lump of coal, depending on how well behaved he has been all year.
He’ll burst into his favourite tune, Jingle Bells, any time it plays on shuffle, no matter what month it is.
I just read that Australian parents spend up to $1000 per child on gifts and it made me ponder the real value of presents, being present and focusing on what truly matters to a child.
Another tradition we’ve always had is that each Christmas he chooses pre-loved toys and books of his own to give away to a good cause, understanding that sharing them is just as rewarding as having enjoyed them for a time.
For many people, the festive party season is not so joyful and so it’s also a time for remembering that others may need a little solace.
RSL and community clubs throughout our region host collections of gifts or non-perishable goods to support veterans, families and children in need.
Many charities including The Smith Family, The Salvos, SunnyKids, beyondblue and Suncoast Care have volunteering and visiting programs, even virtual forums online, over Christmas to spread cheer and ensure that there will be food and a friendly face for everyone.
You can reach out at any time to donate time, funds or goods.
You can even donate a Christmas dinner this year through a wonderful initiative called Project Rudolph!
For just $45, Aussie Farmers Direct, Aussie Farmers Foundation and Foodbank will deliver a Project Rudolph meal box of roast meat, vegetables and Christmas cake to a family who may otherwise go without.
They expect to distribute more than 1600 this year and take donations until December 22 at aussiefarmersfoundation.org.au.
So if you usually give to charity instead of buying presents, this would make a fitting gift.
This year and into 2018, I wish for you a peaceful and happy time of memorable and meaningful moments.
Rebecca Grisman is a communications specialist who has lived on the Sunshine Coast for more than 20 years.