In school, the clubs you join and positions you take tend to define you. I was charity representative for my form throughout school, a member of choir and recorder club, and started up book review club in year nine (yes, at that tender age of thirteen when being cool really does matter).
While the recorder club is most embarrassing – not only because it is a ridiculously easy instrument to play and I was the worst player – I was always proud of being charity rep.
In primary school, every year at Christmas I helped* my mum fill shoeboxes with small presents to send to children in poverty, and would bring the abundance of her homemade items into school to sell at fairs.
I admired the fact she couldn't afford to buy particularly pricey things or give the money straight out, so she'd contribute as best she could. Following her lead, at secondary school I ran stalls, took part in swims and organised charity events; and I loved it all. There is of course some mildly selfish personal fulfilment in the sense that giving makes you feel better about yourself. But as soon as I went to university, I did the typical redefining of your 'self'. I redefined my 'self' as someone incredibly lazy.
With all that spare time, I regrettably didn't earn a single penny for charity.
Since then, I've taken to giving money to charities and making sure everything goes to the charity shop when unused, but as for time, like most, it seems a struggle to fit it in adequate social life on top of work. Looking back on how much I used to care and manage never fails to provoke feelings of guilt.
Some fundraisers are criticised as trivial or easy, but I respect those who take on the terribly daunting task of running the marathon or even growing a silly tash for Movember. Why not combine a personal challenge and raise money? It can feel like being guilted into giving when asked – but we don't have to give to every request. And if anyone feels a little worthy for taking part, perhaps they can afford to for making the effort? It's all going to a good cause after all…
It's of course that time of year where we all make resolutions we probably won't follow through with, but this year my new year's resolution is to bring back a bit of my teenage self (definitely minus the recorder), stop being selfish and make an effort to give a little more. Unlike eating less fried goods, this is one I will make sure I stick to.
*probably wasn't very helpful at all