Although we should do it more frequently and throughout the year, Christmas brings out the charity in all of us. As I heard people discussing their stints in the soup kitchens, donations to the homeless and simply offering money to a needy cause, I realised that I had been a bit slow on the uptake this year. Luckily, I am one of those souls who finds it incredibly exciting to find the right present for that VIP member in your life, but I generally cry at the end of it when I find they already have it in blue. Ready to widen my span of generosity, I was stumped as to what events were specifically for those in need during the festive period. Thinking back to my childhood, I began to trawl through websites to find Operation Christmas Child.
My Catholic primary school consisted of 200 children in a tiny building enclosed in a Victorian structure encircled with bricks of mortar. Known to be one of the best primary schools in Hull, I thought nothing of my experience there at the time. I had made friends, been studious and enjoyed and failed an embarrassing series of extra-curricular activities (remedial football, anyone?) Although we were known to skip Red Nose Day, to pretty much every child's dismay, no one ever informed us of exactly what we were putting into. So today, when I found out that the Evangelical Samaritan's Purse is an Islamaphobic conversion mission I was rather dismayed.
Be a believer or non-believer, like plenty of people on this planet, either choice is respected by me, especially considering I am sure unclear as to what I think myself. As a environmental Catholic, I have been imbibed with the Catholic teachings in ways which I never thought would make a difference. Thrilled to find I have a greater source of Biblical contextual background to a text at University, and somewhere beautiful to congregate at Christmas and Easter has always been of great comfort to me. But yet again, it's the unity, the atmosphere, not exactly God, that takes me there. As a believer of religion as a force of good, I am scornful of those who refuse to believe in choice, freedom of sexuality and women's rights. Furthermore, I am absolutely incensed that a charity could deprive a child of a toothbrush because they do not share the same God.
Keen to pursue alternate methods to the incredibly successful appeal, I found that the ones that had begun were rendered defunct, or meagre substitutes could only be offered. I donate to Christian Aid because I was heartened by their mosquito net campaign, I have baked buns for CAFOD because they were my school's in-house charity, and even donated money to the Catholic institution in itself. Charity is a fantastic thing to do, but I only opened up the shoebox when I heard Pandora knocking, three years out of faith school, turning sentiment into segregation. Being brought up a default Catholic is no excuse for ignorance- so as well as keeping my Christian Aid donation alive, I just might get a goat for someone. Just someone who needs it.