Donating Christmas in a Box to a local family in need with Feeding Families

I first came across Feeding Families last year when one of their volunteers asked me to share their page from my Facebook page which I did but then shockingly kind of forgot about them.

Then one of the mams at school started a volunteer role with the charity and messaged me and again, asked if I could help to spread the word. This time, I took the time to read more about the charity and the work they do and decided it's something we'd like to get involved with.

The following post is my own experience of helping Feeding Families in 2018. There are different ways to help, you should always follow official guidelines and there are many ways to get involved. My experience will be different to others but I really wanted to share my story.

Donating Christmas in a Box to a local family in need with Feeding Families


Feeding Families is a registered charity designed to help and facilitate others to help local families in need this Christmas. It doesn't seem like a day goes by without there being another news story about Universal Credit sanctions leaving families broken and child poverty has never been higher.

I am furious that our Government isn't doing more to help the most vulnerable in society and I am embarrassed to say I live in a country that treats our poor the way we do.

I think the saying is true, you can judge a person/country/business on how they treat their most vulnerable and in the UK, it's just not good enough.

I think it's really hard to know how as one person you can make a difference and help and I think Feeding Families is a straight-forward and effective way to do your bit and help a local family in need.

We decided to go down the route of making a full Christmas in a Box family for a local family, there are other ways to help too which I will share at the bottom of this post.

Donating a hamper - the application process 

As a donor, you need to complete a form online with a few details. The best time to do this is October/November and the cut-off date is usually at the start of December.

You need to pick what sized family you can help and complete a few details. Then it's a case of waiting until you're matched with a family. For us, this took three weeks and we were matched with a family in the next town.

You're sent an email with lots of instructions including health and safety advice on how to deliver your hamper, what not to include in your hamper and where to deliver. You're also provided with contact details for your matched family and asked to send a quick text to confirm you've been matched - I found this tricky as didn't know what to say so I just said a quick hello, asked how old my matched family's children were and asked if they had any specific likes or dislikes.

I don't think you're really supposed to get that personal but like I say, it's difficult to know what to say in the first text. My matched family replied straight away and they just said they were really grateful for any help we could give them and that they liked noodles, bread and cheese.

If you are in need of a hamper over Christmas, you can also apply via the website and you need to send proof of the benefits you're receiving or details of any difficult circumstances.

I think Feeding Families are only able to match hampers to families who don't provide proof of their circumstances in extreme cases so if you're reading this in 2019 and think you need to apply, have your proof ready in good time. You can read more about the sign-up process here (applications are closed for 2018 - check back in October for 2019 applicants).

Donating a hamper - what to buy 

Feeding Families has put together a full shopping list of items to put in your hamper. They price checked a hamper for a family of 4 at Aldi and it should cost £40. For me, the cost of buying everything on the list was more like £60-£70.

I think they must have been buying the very cheapest of brands and I guess creating a hamper for this cost is achievable BUT if you're like me, you're not going to want to give somebody an everyday value can of beans for Christmas - you're going to buy Heinz.

I think the cost and commitment of buying a hamper is something to be mindful of as the list is fairly substantial and it's pretty much a full week's shop. There are 56 items on the list (you can see the list on the Feeding Families website - scroll to the bottom and check out 'Matched Hamper Food List').

Please do not sign up unless you can commit to the minimum spend required. I was saddened to see a couple of people not keep up their side of the bargain this year which could have left families who had signed up and were expecting a hamper with nothing. Luckily, a couple of people stepped in at the last minute to help but this might not have been the case.

Personally, I think it's really important to stick to the list as it keeps everyone the same and I would hate to think my family was waiting for a Christmas Pudding after seeing it on the list and then it wasn't included.

You can buy a couple of little extras but Feeding Families recommend you don't go OTT as if you're able to give more, it's much better to make up another hamper for another family and again, it keeps it fairer for all.

My mam bought a couple of tins of M&S biscuits and I added a 'That's Not My Santa' book, reindeer ears and reindeer dust which was only an additional £5. I also added sanitary towels after a follower suggested it - I'm actually really surprised they weren't already on the list if I'm honest.

I also bought extra without spending more in the form of offers - 4 tins of beans for £2 and that kind of thing.

Donating Christmas in a Box to a local family in need with Feeding Families

Donating a hamper - a rollercoaster of emotions 

Something I wasn't prepared for was how much of a rollercoaster of emotions this process would be.

I've felt anger that families are in a position to ask for help and our Government aren't doing more, guilty that I can't do more, embarrassed that I'm in a position to help, I've felt sadness for the families in need, joy in seeing the compassion offered by others and frustrated with myself for feeling all of this when after all, I am leading a life of privilege and really can't imagine what the families living in poverty must be dealing with every single day which is obviously a billion times worse.

Again, a lovely reader messaged me and reminded me that I shouldn't be embarrassed and that I should be proud that I am in a position to help and have chosen to do that rather than doing nothing which made complete sense and settled my emotions - thank you to that lovely lady for pointing this out.


Donating a hamper - how to present it all  

There are lots of ways to do this but I think the most important thing is for the hamper to be easily transported. Some people wrap up cardboard boxes and others use bags or traditional looking hamper baskets.

I popped the Christmas sweets, chocolates, hot chocolate, reindeer dust and book into what you'd call a traditional hamper and presented this as a Christmas Eve Box then everything else was put into re-usable bags so they were easy to carry.

Donating Christmas in a Box to a local family in need with Feeding Families
Christmas Eve Box

Donating a hamper - the delivery process 

When I first signed up to Feeding Families, I had no intention of hand delivering my hamper. If I'm honest it all sounded a bit cringe and it wasn't really something I was comfortable with doing this.

It was way out of my comfort zone! There is the option to deliver to a collection point but if you do this, you're not able to include any fresh produce.

Another downside of doing this is that Feeding Families will then need to organise a volunteer driver to deliver on your behalf and organise it all for you which is obviously a lot more admin work AND volunteer drivers are few and far between.

Plus after thinking about it, I think delivering your own hamper really does give a more personal experience and reinforces community spirit / what Christmas is all about. So after Feeding Families emailed and explained all of this, it actually felt selfish not to deliver our own hamper when we had the means to so this is the option we went with.

The final delivery date is 23 December and we organised a convenient delivery time via text message.

You are sent lots of information about ensuring a safe and smooth delivery (two pages full in fact). Feeding Families provide lots of helpful advice such as delivering as a group, trying to make the experience a festive one by wearing Santa hats and getting the kids involved.

You're advised to pack your hampers in something which is easy to lift/carry and NEVER enter a recipient's house.

I think it's really important to remember that family's show gratitude in different ways and just because a family looks like they're doing ok, doesn't mean that they are.

Circumstances can change quickly and it's not up to us to judge others. Remember in your heart that you are doing a great thing by helping others.

I'm delivering my hamper to our matched family tomorrow. I'm not going to write about it as I want to respect everyone's privacy but I'll be taking the kids with me and trying to make it into a happy occasion for all involved.

Feeding Families - other ways to help 


If you don't have the time/money/resources available to create and deliver a full hamper yourself, there are other ways you can help Feeding Families out in 2019. These include:
  • Buy raffle tickets to raise money to cover their storage costs 
  • Donate money to help cover their costs and/or buy food for hampers they make up 
  • Volunteer at a packing centre and organise donated food into hampers 
  • Volunteer as a delivery driver for shopping trips and/or deliver hampers to families 
  • Set up a food drop off point at your place or work 
  • Organise a food collection amongst friends/family/your place of work and drop-off at a packing centre where volunteers will sort food into hampers 
  • Help to spread the word and tell everyone about Feeding Families 

If you're interested in helping a local family in need in 2019, I'd recommend joining the Feeding Families Facebook Group, following their Facebook page for updates and checking out their website in October/November to sign up.

Next year, I'm going to start buying something extra each week with my food shopping from September onwards and I hope to make two hampers next time.

Joining in with Feeding Families has been such a worthwhile opportunity for us. It has really brought home the meaning of Christmas and as a family, it has been nice to give back to our community at this time of year and I hope it has helped to reinforce the idea that it's better to give than receive and the importance of helping others when you can to Harry, Heidi and Jack.


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8 comments

  1. I have never heard of Feeding Families but it is a fantastic way to help out.
    You are such a thoughtful person including the extras. Good luck with the delivery x

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  2. I had never heard of this, but it sounds like a brilliant idea.
    This year, with the help of our Primary school, and some very good friends, we made up 82 small backpacks, filled with toys, stationery and toiletries, and donated them to a local Women's Refuge. They will be given to kids, throughout the year, who may have had to leave all of their belongings behind.
    I took the kids along with me, to deliver them, last night, and I am so glad they got to be part of the project. It's easy to forget just how privileged we are sometimes, and, as you say, we often feel helpless, and think there's nothing we can do to make a real difference. I have been blown away by the support the project has received from our school community, and feel inspired to do more things like this in the future.
    Your hamper looks amazing, and I think it's great that you're spreading the word about the charity you're working with. Have to admit, I was a bit hesitant about putting anything on Social Media about what we'd done, for fear of looking like I was boasting about being a do gooder, but actually, this is the kind of thing we should be talking about and you should be very proud that you are helping another family to have a happy Christmas this year. Well done, and thank you for letting me know about 'Feeding Families' - I will definitely look into making a hamper for them next year.

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    Replies
    1. It's a tough one with Social Media isn't it - I'm pleased I've inspired a few others to help out though and your charity sounds fab too - well done xx

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  3. Sam it’s just wonderful that you’ve done this and speaks volumes to your kind heart to put your money and time to use like this. Well done you, I’m going to try do this next year!

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  4. This is such a wonderful thing to do at this time of year Sam, and how lovely that you got to deliver the hamper in person. I am sure the family were very much grateful for your kind donations, and the thought you had made into creating the hamper x

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  5. Thanks from us at Feeding FAmilies for participating and telling people about our cause. We are always trying to do better so quite a lot of things have changed this year. The number of items in the hamper are smaller but there is more of a focus on Christmas treats, which is what people told us they wanted. The sign up and matching is also different and we have had to re-emphasise some of the aspects of safeguarding for everyone's safety. We can't tell you what a difference these gifts make to families for whom Christmas would be bleak, and finding someone cares enough to give to a stranger has a huge impact. However our donors are also impacted, having stepped up to the plate to make a difference in the world. Many small things make huge change.

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I'd love you to Tweet your thoughts about this post (@nefamilyfun) or leave a comment over on my Facebook page (fb.com/NeFamilyFun) - Sam x

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