“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge… Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.” Remember this line from the Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’? As we spend lavishly on new clothes, sweets, gifts, decorations and fireworks this festival season of Diwali, let us also give back to our society. Here are 6 ways to inspire you and get you started with a charitable Diwali.
1. Donate Food
When you are stacking boxes upon boxes of sweets and snacks to give to friends, save some for those less fortunate. Share meals or special Diwali treats with local people who are in need. You can also contact an NGO in your city or join hands with a national organization like http://www.indiafoodbanking.org/ to make your efforts count. I found the perfect opportunity at my kids’ school as they organized a ‘foodraiser’.
2. Donate Toys
I got the kids involved this year. I told them that if they wanted any new toys or gifts on their birthdays or at Christmas, they had to make space for them first. When cleaning their toy chest for Diwali, I gave them two containers. In the first one, they put all irreparable and broken toys that were to be discarded. In the second, they had to choose and put those toys that they wanted to pass on to other children to play with. The thought of children out there not having any toys to play with, made the kids very generous and we have two bags full of toys in perfect condition that are going to be lovingly and proudly donated. NGO’s like http://www.toybank.org/ can help you donate or keep a lookout for other toy donation pleas in your local newspaper.
3. Donate Clothes & Utility Items
Several NGOs provide a pickup facility if you have clothes, utensils and other household items to donate. This Diwali, as you make space for new outfits and bed linen, don’t throw the old ones into the back of your closet. Take them out and hand them over to someone who will treat your trash like treasure. Charitable foundations like https://dreamgirlfoundation.ngo/ will be glad to pick up your donations from your homes.
4. Shop from Artists
You must have read the very touching poem on a potter woman trying to sell clay diyas on Diwali. It has been doing the rounds on Facebook and Whatsapp for a couple of years now. The plight of local artists who haven’t the means to sell in stores, malls or online has worsened in recent years. Though there are many websites now who are trying to bring the local artisans of India to the forefront, a stronger call to action would be us shopping locally from them. So, stop the car at the roadside, shop for clay diyas and other beautiful pottery they have and use them to decorate your home traditionally for Diwali. And perhaps, although difficult, we could skip haggling just this time of the year!
5. Shop for Charity
This one we can all do, right? Let your love for shopping bring some cheer into the lives of many underprivileged people. Many charitable organizations have shops that sell cards and gifts. All proceeds from the sales go towards the cause. I just bought some lovely candles from the Cuddles Foundation that provides to cancer afflicted children. There are many more options from CRY cards and Amla Products to local Diwali melas by NGOs like Srujna where you can shop to help low income families celebrate their own Happy Diwalis.
6. Make a Monetary Donation
It seems like a very wrong time to donate money with all the additional expenses that crop up during Diwali. But if you think about it, it is the time when you are actually prepared to spend extra. It is also the time for bonuses and perks. How about cutting down on some luxury this season and donating money to your favorite charity?
Every year, thousands of people are affected by natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, drought etc. Thousands of people are trying to re-build their lives as we are busy celebrating Diwali. The Prime Minister’s relief fund is the first line of support available for them. Here are some others who are doing excellent work in the fields of education and medical science who will make good use of your donations.
These were just a few ways to give back this Diwali. I am sure you can come up with many more creative ways. Do share your ideas for giving back in the comments below.