For many of us Christmas is the happiest time of year. It’s a time filled with too much food and drink, too many presents and (too much?) time spent with family and friends. But for a startlingly large number of people, it’s nothing like that. There are lots of people suffering and struggling, especially at Christmas.

So this year, why not do one of these small things to help someone else?

Cutting the waste and supporting charities
Little things like buying charity Christmas cards and using brown parcel paper for presents would make a big difference if everybody did them. Plus both can be recycled like other common recyclable Christmas items.  Making or buying second hand presents, gifting experiences and ‘promises’ can cut back on waste. If you don’t know what to give someone and they don’t really want anything, a small donation to charity is a nice gesture.

Reverse advent calendar
Instead or as well as buying an advent calendar, do a ‘reverse advent calendar’, where each day you put something into a box and donate it to a food bank or homeless shelter.

Donating to food banks
There are many food banks across the county and they are a lifeline to hundreds living in poverty. Why not put a few extra items (food, toiletries, baby products) into your trolley when you’re shopping and donate them to your local food bank? Most supermarkets have baskets just by the tills. Find your nearest food bank.

Presents for children in care
We run Project Rudolph at HQ to collect new toys and gifts for babies, children and teenagers living in care in East Sussex. You can donate new unwrapped presents at County Hall in Lewes, Ocean House in Hastings, St Mark’s House (the training centre) and St Mary’s House in Eastbourne. They will then be wrapped and given out to young people who might not otherwise get any presents.

Helping the homeless
Warming Up the Homeless is a local charity that supports homeless people in and around Hastings, Eastbourne and Bexhill. You can donate clothes (in good condition), sealed food, flasks and sleeping bags, as well as your time and money.

Buy someone a Christmas dinner
Refuge has five women’s refuges in East Sussex. For £5 you can donate Christmas dinner to a woman spending Christmas there.

The Alex Children’s Hospital in Brighton looks after many of East Sussex’s sick children. Staying in hospital over Christmas is tough for the whole family. Family members don’t get meals provided and there aren’t facilities to cook Christmas dinner, but you can donate one for the whole family to eat together by supporting Aidan’s Christmas dinner project.

Uneaten food in cafes
Fareshare Sussex is a charity that redistributes surplus waste food to people who need it. If you work in a café or shop and find yourself throwing away food, stop! They will travel to you and collect perishable and non-perishable food within use-by-date and distribute it to local charities and projects. If you don’t work in the food industry, but still want to support, you can donate non-perishable foods at the Co-Op, Meridian Way, Peacehaven or take part in their national Tesco food collections on 29, 30 November and 1 December.

Wear a Christmas jumper
Take part in National Christmas Jumper Day on 14 December and raise money for Save the Children.

Be a good neighbour
For people without friends or family nearby, Christmas can be very lonely. Why not send a Christmas card and some mince pies to that neighbour that you know is spending Christmas on their own? Or if you’re feeling really generous, you could invite them round to yours!

Do you have any other ideas? Leave them in the comments below if you do. Merry Christmas!