Columnist, Veronica Clark: Christmas goodwill in a shoebox beats any advent calendar

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They say that Christmas is a time for giving rather than receiving.

But one woman took it to a whole new level with a brilliant idea that has been shared over 74,000 times on Facebook.

Louise Scott, 33, posted an idea of an ‘advent box’ instead of a calendar for Christmas. The personal trainer decided to shun a chocolate calendar and vowed to collect one item a day to give to the homeless on Christmas Eve.

Her idea was so good that it went viral, with other people from around the world entering into the festive spirit and pledging their support. Louise’s charitable idea came to her when she spotted an empty cardboard box hanging around at home. But instead of binning it, she decided to fill it up with useful items for someone less fortunate then herself. She started off with a tin of tomato soup, and, with each day that passed, continued to add a different item.

Soon her advent box was filled with items ranging from food to basic toiletries. In short, and in the true spirit of Christmas, Louise decided to give something back. On Christmas Eve, instead of opening up the final window on her calendar, Louise will be handing over her boxful of goods to someone in need.

Her idea was so good and so effective that others soon began to follow her lead with their own advent boxes. Her bid to bring a little bit of Christmas cheer had been transformed from a single Facebook posting into a global phenomenon. It had taken the Internet by storm, and was shared by people across the world. For once, social media had become a useful tool to spread some festive goodwill. It had done something remarkable, and so had Louise.

Louise plans to take her advent box (and those of her friends) and distribute them to people sleeping rough, food banks, churches, and vital projects working with the homeless. Today, we have more and more people relying on food banks than ever before. Bizarrely, a basic necessity such as food is now deemed a luxury item. It’s a sad state of affairs, but the reality is a lot of families now rely on food banks to feed their children. But with that simple idea, Louise has shown us that a little kindness can go a very long way. In a world obsessed with image and possessions, I applaud such an enterprising young woman.

She acted as a reminder to us all that the festive season shouldn’t be about what you receive, but we should focus on what we can give. It doesn’t even have to be money. Just a bit of time or a place at your table could make all the difference to someone who finds themselves alone. I think we should all take a leaf out of Louise’s book and spare a thought for others, and not just at Christmas, but the whole year round.