Money may be tight this year, but if you're able to give back to those less fortunate, there are plenty of ways to make a difference to someone's Christmas across Gloucestershire.
From stuffing shoeboxes for animals in need to recycling your Christmas tree — or buying Christmas gifts that give something back — SoGlos shares 11 Christmas charity appeals to get involved with this festive season.
Recycle your Christmas tree with Sue Ryder
When it's time to take the decorations down, Sue Ryder is collecting and recycling Christmas trees in selected GL postcodes, in exchange for charitable donations to support Gloucestershire's only in-patient palliative care unit, Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.
Book a hassle-free Christmas tree collection by Tuesday 9 January 2024 — not only looking after the environment by disposing of your tree in an environmentally way, you'll also be helping Sue Ryder to continue providing free palliative and bereavement care for local people and their families.
See Gloucestershire charity launches Christmas tree recycling scheme for more details about the Treecycling Gloucestershire initiative.
Donate to help Gloucestershire Community Foundation fight poverty
Gloucestershire Community Foundation's impactful Poverty Hurts appeal aims to help local people living in poverty — a cause that's particularly pertinent this year, with huge increases in the cost of living making it more difficult for people to make ends meet.
The Poverty Hurts Fund supports charitable causes across Gloucestershire, funding activities, projects and organisations that provide help for vulnerable people and families affected by poverty. Donations can be made via the GCF website — with the foundation asking people to consider passing on any additional government support they've received this year, if they can live without it.
Become a Friend of Westonbirt Arboretum
A thoughtful present for the nature lover in your life, a Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum membership gives the gift of free entry to Westonbirt, The National Arboretum near Tetbury for a whole year — along with other benefits — from £42.
The money raised from memberships supports the conservation of Westonbirt's world-leading botanical collection, not only keeping Gloucestershire's magical tree garden thriving but protecting the future of trees across the globe for generations to come, too.
Enter the Pied Piper Appeal Christmas raffle
Well-worth getting tickets for, there's a host of incredible prizes to be won in the Pied Piper Appeal's annual Christmas raffle. Featuring Tesla test drives, family tickets to Cattle Country and vouchers to the county's best foodie hotspots (The Nook, Wholly Gelato and The Beefy Boys, to name a few...), tickets cost just £2 each — with the live draw taking place before Christmas, on Tuesday 19 December 2023.
The Pied Piper Appeal supports sick and disabled children in Gloucestershire in many ways, including funding the children's centre at Gloucester Royal. This Christmas, it's also running a Toy Appeal to collect play equipment for the hospital's play specialists to use at the centre, with wish lists on its website.
Donate toys and books to Gloucestershire Bundles
All year round, Gloucestershire Bundles provides emergency packs to pregnant women and families in crisis situations — and at Christmastime, it relies on donations to make sure these children receive a gift to make their Christmas magical.
Help by donating new toys and books suitable for babies up to 16-year-olds, including board games, dolls, craft items, Pokemon and Minecraft toys. This year, Gloucestershire Bundles is also calling for items appropriate for 17- to 19-year-olds, as part of its Every Gifted Teen appeal, to make sure that every teenager in care or spending Christmas alone has a present to open.
Create a shoebox for Gloucestershire's homeless dogs and cats
Gloucestershire animal shelters like Teckels Animal Sanctuary and Cheltenham Animal Shelter have Christmas shoebox appeals this year, encouraging people to donate items for the dogs and cats in kennels, while they wait for their fur-ever homes.
Doggy peanut butter, soft treats and tough toys make great gifts for pooches in need, while cats will love to receive catnip, interactive toys and soft, fleecy blankets. Essential items are listed on each charity's website.
Become a Hub Hero for Allsorts
Stroud-based children’s charity Allsorts provides activity sessions for children with additional needs from its Activity Hub, hosting everything from toddler groups and messy play to the Allsorts Toy Library — a treasure trove of fun items that can be borrowed and taken home to play with.
This year's Christmas appeal aims to raise money for the Activity Hub, which now costs £160 per day to run, compared to £100 when it opened in 2018. Donations can be made via Allsorts's JustGiving page.
Donate to WellChild's Christmas nurse appeal
Cheltenham-based charity WellChild is asking for donations to help it provide support to seriously ill children and their families, so they can leave hospital and access care and support at home.
Many poorly children across the UK could make it home for Christmas with the support of a WellChild Nurse — with £25 covering an hour of support from the point of diagnosis, £50 helping to fund a training session for families to learn how to administer care at home and £150 funding half a day's work helping families get home. Donations can be made via the website.
Sponsor an animal at the Cotswolds Dogs and Cats Home
Another way to help pets in need this Christmas — and the paw-fect gift idea, if you've got an animal-loving little one to buy for! — is to sponsor an animal at the Cotswolds Dogs and Cats Home. Sponsorship includes a certificate and cute cuddly dog or cat toy, along with a Christmas welcome pack.
Money from sponsorships helps the rescue centre to fund vital veterinary treatment, training and care for the vulnerable animals in residence, helping to set them up for a happier future.
Fill a gift bag for Cheltenham Open Door
Cheltenham Open Door provides free services for vulnerable, disadvantaged and lonely people, including those who are homeless. As well as providing guests with a place to go, where they can shower and enjoy a warm meal over Christmas, it also hands out festive gift bags for everyone who visits on the big day.
The charity is accepting festive donations to pack its gift bags up until Saturday 23 December 2023. Most guests are men and items on this year's wish list include nice toiletries, edible treats, brand-new clothes and small, practical gifts like rucksacks, charging cables, hot water bottles and tool sets.
Host your own feast for The Long Table
The Long Table believes that 'the real magic of Christmas lies in sharing a meal' — and this year, it's calling on people to host a dinner and invite anyone who might feel lonely to join them this Christmas.
By putting on a festive feast between Saturday 9 and Sunday 17 December 2023, you'll be joining the effort to create The Longest Table — simply sign up via The Long Table website to receive a resource pack. Other ways to help include donating surplus vegetables or paying a meal forward to serve someone at the community canteen in Brimscombe.