Deck the halls with bows of holly… (and you know the rest!). It’s Advent, and we’ll be celebrating Christmas the way we usually do, but online. Want to celebrate Christmas in your parish or community by holding an online carol service or Christmas Play?
Here’s a quick guide on how to do it:
Choose a date and time, maybe a weekend or evening
Choose an online platform like Zoom.
Create an order of service (see our carol sheet for ideas on which Christmas Hymns to sing).
Find someone who can lead the carols (maybe a good singer or musician, if this is not possible, try using some videos, there are loads on YouTube).
Set up a JustGiving page or invite people to donate to the CAFOD website.
It is the season of reflection and we’ll be journeying through Advent this week with Rev. Deacon Sean Loone, from the Archdiocese of Birmingham and CAFOD program Officer in Peru Lucy Jardine in our online Advent reflection.
Sean Loone is a Roman Catholic Deacon working in the Archdiocese of Birmingham and has spent much of his career teaching in a wide variety of schools and colleges, combining this with part time lecturing at St Mary’s College Oscott, the seminary for the Archdiocese.
We caught up with Becky Such, Individual Giving Executive aka World Gifts Coordinator at CAFOD, to find out what World Gifts is all about, what the most popular gifts are and how your giving this Christmas can make a positive impact in someone else’s life.
What’s your name?
What is your role?
I’m an Individual Giving Executive with responsibility for World Gifts, although I often call myself World Gifts Coordinator, as that’s a bit simpler!
How long have you been in this position?
I started June 2018.
What is the best thing about your role?
My role is so varied. From sourcing new gifts and case studies, to coming up with new ways we can improve World Gifts and actually making it happen each year. Hearing how individuals, schools and parishes have all fundraised – it’s really rewarding that way. Ithink I’m really lucky having the positive examples of our work that make up World Gifts, the new visuals this year have also been really fun to see and develop with the illustrator! Plus, a big focus for World Gifts is Christmas, and I really love the season, so that’s a win-win really.
What is World Gifts? (summary of history/background, who it’s for, aims etc)
World Gifts is CAFOD’s virtual giving scheme. Back when it started in 2003, it was one of the first virtual gift schemes out there. We wanted to find a way for people to tangibly engage with our work and support CAFOD around Christmas, and so World Gifts was born. World Gifts is arguably for everyone – mainly individuals buy them as gifts for their loved ones, but schools and parishes do fundraise to either buy one more expensive gift, or lots of less expensive gifts. Although World Gifts is a fun way to support CAFOD, it’s also a great way to hear about different areas of our work. Even people who work at CAFOD say they didn’t realise some of the things we do when they read a World Gifts case study.
What are the most popular World Gifts and why?
The most popular gifts change a little each year, but some of the firm favourites are Teach someone to read, Water for a family and Happy queen bee. The Keep clean kit, new this year, is also proving very popular. I think these gifts are well-liked because they’re easy to understand. Here in the UK we can take for granted having the opportunity to learn to read, or access to clean running water, but everyone can appreciate how vital these are. With the Happy queen bee gift I think partly it’s because it’s our bargain gift, at just £4, but also because everyone loves bees!
How has the pandemic affected World Gifts this year?
I think people are turning to World Gifts more than they normally would. Perhaps because most of us can’t go out shopping at the moment. Or because many of us have reassessed what’s important to us this year, so a charity gift seems the best thing to give. The website has certainly seen a lot more orders coming through as people turn more and more to online ways to support CAFOD.
From a group fundraising perspective, I think it has been really challenging. We normally send out batches of World Gifts catalogues to parishes all over England and Wales, but with lockdown restrictions, we’ve had to postpone that in England. But I have heard about schools and parishes still managing to fundraise, sometimes converting their usual activities into virtual ones. People have really used their imagination, which is brilliant. And I know people see World Gifts as quite an uplifting thing to engage with at this difficult time.
What have been the highlights for World Gifts this year?
Launching our new look has been a real highlight. Not only was this an immense achievement for everyone involved considering the extra challenges of working remotely, but we’ve also had really positive feedback.
Launching our “Post direct” option on the website. This allows people to provide us with a personalised message which we will print in their card and post directly to their loved one. In a year where there is so much uncertainty around who we will be able to see, I really hope that this option helps people to feel a bit more connected.
How can we get involved?
Buy a World Gift! You can see the full range at cafod.org.uk/worldgifts or you can order via the catalogue if you’ve got your hands on one of those. Already done that? You could see if anyone in your parish or school wants to fundraise for World Gifts. Or you could just spread the word, whether on social media, in your parish bulletin or just chatting to your friends. We know the more people who hear about World Gifts, the better! I also know that right now is a really hard time financially for a lot of people. World Gifts start from just £4, but they’re also available all year round. So if you can’t buy a World Gift now, you can always do it for another occasion.
If you’d like more information on how to send a World Gift this Christmas, click here.
You can read our official World Gifts 2020 press release here.