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Ten ways to have a charitable Christmas in Leeds

Written by
Rob Martin

For most people, Christmas is a time of bingeing on food, drink and telly. It’s important to remember, though, that it’s also a time for giving – and we’re not just talking about Xboxes, mountain bikes, and skimpy lingerie. Chucking money in a charity tin whenever you can is great, but time can often be the most valuable thing you can give, and there are plenty of worthy causes in Leeds.

Pay it forward this yuletide.

1) Make a Food Bank Donation
The subject of many heart-breaking headlines, food banks increasingly provide a safety net of emergency food and support nationwide to over 900,000 people facing financial difficulty. In Leeds, Trussell Trust foodbanks are located in the city centre, Belle Isle, Moortown and Farsley, and operate largely based on donations. Perishable foods (fresh fruit and veg) are best avoided, but opt to throw a few extra cans, packets, and sanitary items in your basket next time you go shopping. Alternatively, you can offer your time by joining the supermarket collection team and help to deliver the donations made in-store.

See Leeds North Foodbank for more details.

2) Run the Santa Dash
Why not get off to a healthy start this Christmas, while helping to raise money for St Gemma’s Hospice? You’ll feel pretty silly haring around the city centre on a course of one or two miles among hundreds of other red, white and beard-clad 'athletes', but the light-hearted Santa Dash is all in the spirit of fun. A live brass band and choir singing carols will cheer you on, and there’s free food and hot drinks at Little Tokyo once you’ve ho ho ho’d yourself over the finish line.

See details about the Santa Dash here 

3) Box Pizza’s Christmas Pizza
Eating pizza to help others? Sounds too good to be true! The city’s trendiest takeaway Box Pizza combines charitable motivation with braised turkey, homemade stuffing, pigs-in-blankets, cranberry compote, and a scattering of crushed walnuts and fresh rosemary to create its seasonal Christmas Pizza. If that wasn’t enough to have you dialling, 50p from each £9.95 pizza sold will be donated to the Leeds-based Simon on the Streets, which works to help rough sleepers.

Check out the menu here 

4) Have Lunch at Arch Café 
Winter can be a harrowing time for older people, with alarming statistics highlighting the very real dilemma of having to choose between food and central heating in the colder months. Age UK runs the brilliant Arch Café (behind the big Sainsbury’s in the city centre) where responsibly-sourced food is served and profits are ploughed back into the charity’s work with the elderly. A three-course Christmas lunch is a very reasonable £12.95 and includes a starter, a turkey or nut roast main course, and a choice of the café’s famous desserts to finish. Treat yourself one lunchtime while helping others – what’s not to love?

Find out more

5) Give Blood
This is something every able person should look to do regularly, but a busy festive period for hospitals means blood stocks are generally running low at this time of year. According to NHS predictions, more than 200,000 blood and 12,500 platelet donations are needed to bolster supplies over the next six weeks. The large Donor Centre on The Headrow offers walk-in and pre-booked slots, so peel yourself away from the television repeats, check that you’re eligible online, head on down, and save a life in a heartbeat.
Find out more

6) Help Radio Aire’s Mission Christmas
In central Leeds alone, 39% of children are classed as living in poverty, according to figures from Radio Aire’s charity, Cash for Kids. To ease the pressure on hard-up families this Christmas, the organisation is once again running its annual Mission Christmas appeal to make sure even the most disadvantaged youngsters have something to open on the big day. Supporters can make a one-time donation via Radio Aire’s website or by texting AIRE to 70070 to donate £5 straight away. Alternatively, new and unwrapped gifts suitable for children and young people aged 0-18 years can be dropped off at the station’s Kirkstall Road base, Crown Point Shopping Centre, or hundreds of other businesses in and around the city.

Find out more

7) Volunteer for Wildlife
Leeds is fortunate to be one of the country’s greenest cities, with beautiful parks, nature reserves and countryside never far away from urban areas. The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) Hollybush centre, based near Morrison’s in Kirkstall, works to reclaim and manage green spaces and is eager to get volunteers from the local community engaged with the environment. Weekly gardening and conservation groups meet weekly, with special events hosted to cater for those with disabilities or of retirement age. As well as taking children to the reindeer nature trail and gift sale this Christmas, there are many ways to get stuck in all month. 

Head for more here

8) Go Carol Singing
Carol-singing is one of the most heart-warming and traditional way to celebrate Christmas and this year the air around Leeds Minster is set to be filled with Silent Night, We Three Kings and Away in a Manger in aid of worthy causes. The annual fundraising gala Carols for a Choral Future will kick off the seasonal sing-alongs on Wednesday 10th December (7pm, £5), while carol concerts supporting Breast Cancer Haven (11th Dec, 6.30pm), Epilepsy Action (15th Dec, 6.30pm) and the Robert Ogden Macmillan Cancer Centre (17th Dec, 7pm) will follow. See the events page for more details.
Find out more

9) Wakefield Hospice Christmas Trees
Not got your tree yet? Not to worry: Wakefield Hospice are having three Christmas tree sales on Thursday 11th, Friday 12th and Saturday 13th December in support of the specialist palliative care unit in Wakefield. The hospice is also offering a reservations service on the sustainably-sourced non-drops, with suggested donations from £30.
Find out more

10) St George’s Crypt £1 Voucher Scheme
Homelessness in Leeds is an issue nobody can ignore, especially in the cold winter months. Local charity St George’s Crypt have come up with a novel way of allowing kind-hearted people to give without the risks associated with cash donations. Members of the public are given the opportunity to buy books of five vouchers for £5 to give to those in need, which can be exchanged for meals and showers. Find the vouchers at any branch of Leeds Building Society, all Leeds libraries, the charity’s Trinity café, and shops in Armley and Oakwood. 

Find out more

Words: Lauren James

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