My reverse advent calendar draws to a close!
The start of this month marked day 1 of my ‘Reverse Advent Calendar’, inspired by the UK Money Bloggers’ food bank campaign. Rather than a typical advent calendar where you open a window and receive a small gift, marking the countdown to Xmas, the idea behind the reverse advent calendar is that you donate a small item each day that at the end of the month can be gifted to a good cause, in this case my local food bank. Today’s weekly shop marked the end of my ‘calendar’, as I finished off buying the last few items.
So, what items made it into my food box?
- 2 x shower gel
- 2 x washing up liquid
- 2 x shaving foam
- 2 x toothbrushes
- 2 x tomato soup
- Instant noodles
- 2 x ready to wok noodles
- 2 x tomato and vegetable pasta sauce
- 2 x tins sweetcorn
- 2 x chopped tomatoes
- Tin mackerel
- Tin sardines
- 2 x tins tuna
- 2 x pineapple slices
- 2 x orange juice
- Several plastic bags
28 items in total, as well as a few bags, added to my weekly shops over the course of the past month.
Partly these were items on my local food bank’s shopping list – tinned fruit / fish / tomatoes, pasta sauce, fruit juice, long-life milk, shower gel – and partly these were items specifically requested by clients when I volunteered last month. In the one morning I helped out, 2 clients specifically requested sweetcorn as one of their vegetables – I don’t blame them, I’d pick sweetcorn over tinned carrots or peas any day! Shaving foam made it to my list as one food parcel I sent out for a single man missed this item because we didn’t have any on the day (there may have been more in storage). And the plastic bags are incredibly useful too because the items are packed into bags for the clients to take home.
All basic food items and toiletries, but hopefully they’ll help make a difference and ease the burden on someone going through tough times.
How much did it cost?
Food prices are going up. I’ve recently increased my food budget by £10 per week as it was becoming more difficult – read impossible – to stick to the budget that had been working for me last year. My weekly shop was becoming a stress, and I’ve chosen to eat (literally) into my money for ‘extras’ so that I can continue to cook the meals and buy the snacks that I want. If needs must though, you have no choice but to make unpleasant sacrifices, and it’s a reminder that as we all see our food bills creeping up, increasing numbers of us are reliant on the support of food banks.
So, if you’re feeling the pinch, and wondering how much it might cost to take part in something like the reverse advent calendar campaign, the 28 items on my list above cost me a total of £16.87.
You also obviously don’t need to do the whole 25 days or month. It’s great marketing to drum up support for a worthy cause, but any help, just an extra tin or two in the local collection point – there’s one in both of my local supermarkets – makes a difference. Or volunteer in person if you’ve little money but time on your hands.
What do you get from it?
Advent starts properly in a few days, and a calendar builds anticipation as you think about Xmas in the weeks leading up to it. I’ve found the reverse advent calendar works in a similar way. If it’s the thought that counts with gifts, I think it’s true of donations too. It takes a bit more effort to collect items over the course of a month and drop them off, but unlike donating cash where you maybe don’t give it a second thought, it’s a nice feeling to think about what you’re doing and why (though the link if you wish to donate is here….!).
So, if you’re considering embarking on your own reverse advent calendar, there’s still plenty of time left so go for it! It can only take a small shift in circumstances for our finances to take a hit.
My local food bank is organising a fundraising and awareness event at a supermarket this coming weekend, when I’ll drop off my food parcel. It’s a small gesture to help.