At this time of year, acts of charity ramp up for Christmas – with food, clothes and toy collections all over Dundee and beyond.
But this year, it feels like there’s 10-fold the effort being made to help people in need.
From a “give and take” food box initiative in Muirhead and Birkhill, where you can donate or help yourself – with none of the normal rules around foodbanks; to Dundee West Church’s pledge to open on Christmas and New Year’s Day – as it does every Wednesday and Friday – and continuing to give a weekly bag of food to 120 people battling addiction, poor mental health or who rely on benefits.
There are too many similar-minded groups to mention.
Indeed, if you google “St Paul’s Cathedral Dundee homeless” you’ll find a list of food sources for those who need it in various locations every day of the week. Is that not inspirational?
Many groups are looking out for our kids. Togs for Tots, Dundee Bairns, Help for Kids and Cash for Kids are just some of the charities providing gifts, clothes and food.
While coronavirus has brought so many unwanted repercussions, one shining light is that we seem kinder – more of us are giving more.
Numbers are hard to come by and the terrifying truth is we may only know the half of it, but anecdotes and news stories point to a worrying short-term future for many.
A friend who lives in Stirling said she arrived at her local foodbank to donate a bag of groceries later than normal.
Driving away, she saw 150 to 200 people queuing for provisions in the pouring rain, many without waterproofs.
At the other end of the scale, a joiner pal in Dundee says he’s never been so busy because people who have not been going out or away on holiday, have more money.
They have a list of home improvements, particularly creating outdoor spaces like bars or gyms.
We hear of the haves and have-nots of society. Is the outpouring of charity partly down to realising there can be a whisker between the two statuses?
Someone who had enough two months ago may have lost their job in hospitality. It’s not a time to find new work and suddenly they are feeling helpless, encountering a sense of depression for the first time.
- ‘Santa’s words of wisdom interrupted by a question from my boy’
- ‘I’m shocked that my latest TV obsession involves the game of chess’
A single mum on a make-up counter in Debenhams might be terrified of news that administration will leave her jobless and unable to pay rent.
Some of it is down to luck – hairdressers, café, pub, restaurant owners and staff, gym workers, cleaners at shut-down shops… and many more fear for their jobs.
Meanwhile others like tradespeople and delivery drivers that I speak to have never been busier – and certain professions like teachers and medics feel largely secure.
Those who feel lucky perhaps have a sense that there’s a huge element of just that, luck, involved and more than ever it’s the kind thing to do, to give a bit extra this Christmas to those whose roll of the dice hasn’t landed so well.