Welcome to The Spirit of Christmas

Every Christmas since 2009, Dennis Stevenson, with community help and at no cost, borrows an empty shop and gives away thousands of free presents to help make sure no one goes without.

The 2012 'Spirit of Christmas' shop opened for eight days and closed at 6pm on Christmas Eve having given away over 11,000 presents. A Spirit of Christmas shop opened in 2013 at Wangaratta. The first shop listed for 2014 is 'Spirit of Christmas Coolum'.

Receiving and giving help

We all need help now and again. You enjoy helping people, don't you? Why not give others the chance to help you? With a positive, loving and friendly outlook, you'll certainly get the help you need. Australians are very, very generous. Just get past any thought you might have about not wanting to ask. Just do it. Expect to be pleasantly surprised.

With the following ideas - just pick the ones that interest you.

Most of these ideas can be used anytime - for anything. The whole point of what I do in my life is to help build communities where we help each other. Not just sometimes - all the time. As a new way of living! So, let’s look after each other - all-ways.

Note: When you see ‘contact’ below, this means you either phone, visit, email or write.

Lots of ideas to get help - just ask!

Put a sign up on local notice boards. Boards are everywhere. PRINT clearly with a LARGE heading, e.g., ‘PLEASE HELP US WITH (whatever item or service you need). Just include a phone number. A name and address isn't needed.
 
Contact a local church, the Salvation Army or other religious group. The Salvoes are wonderful. They help thousands of people. Just contact a group.
 
Ask for free things on freecycle (see ‘links’ on this site) or Gumtree (on the internet). There is no cost (ever) to join or to place as many free ads as you wish.

Ask a neighbour, friend, relative or workmate - or even a stranger (a friend you haven't yet met).

Contact a local club: sporting, services, etc. Find them under ‘Organisations’ in the Yellow Pages phone book. They are wonderful in helping people.

Contact a group: Scouts or other youth group, Lions, Apex, Rotary, Toastmasters, etc. The 'Men's Shed' groups are also wonderful.

Contact a radio station and tell them your situation. They know groups who help. Otherwise, phone directly to their talkback line and, without necessarily giving your full name on air, do the same.

If you don't mind publicity, give your story to a newspaper (perhaps the weekly if local help is needed) or television station. Because of the number of viewers, this is the fastest way to get fabulous help.

Contact anyone well known: your local government Members, a V.I.P. (Very Important Person, which of course we all are), business leader, sportsman or other public figure.

You can arrange special outings, say at a fun park or movies etc. Contact the cinema or entertainment venue beforehand and ask if you can all get in free. I do this myself as I don't charge anyone for anything and thus need to be creative. If they can't help you, don't be disheartened, just ask someone else. People will help if they can.

Keep in mind that nature gives us the best entertainment we can get. When was the last time you spent the day climbing a hill, having a picnic, borrowing a canoe, swimming or going bike riding or hiking? Keep in mind the best way to enjoy lfe is to help people.

Get involved in helping yourself

Contact a business or shop that makes, repairs, distributes or sells (new or second hand) what you need. Ask if they’d be kind enough to help you. Most businesses have ‘seconds’ or outdated stock they may either give you or sell very cheaply. You can also offer to do something for them in exchange: perhaps cleaning, gardening, organising, filing or letterboxing their leflets. You may even be offered a part-time job doing these things.

Bring things you own, or are given, back to life. For example, clean and polish your car instead of buying a newer one. Seat covers look great. Any accomodation can be made comfortable and attractive with paint, curtains, cleaning or other creative ideas like putting some prints up on the walls or gardening. So, don't only clean or repair things when you want to sell them. Do it now! Then you may choose not to sell.

With anything you need, ask others if they have things they can give you. If things need repair, painting, polishing or cleaning, do what you can do personally and get help with what you can't. Many times I've spent hours on something while watching a good movie (usually cleaning as I'm not a handyman) and had it look amost new.

Talk to people you know and arrange to SWAP things with each other at a 'swap-meet' at someone's home. You can get toys for children or lots of things, even clothes. Swap your kids for theirs (toys that is). Someone just gave me an old pushbike. I asked a fellow who sells bikes if he would fix it up for me and he did. He also sends hundreds of free bikes to Asia to help out. Now I'm going to clean my bike.

Ways to get things nearly free

Sell something to get the money to buy things you need. You can place free - no cost at all, ever - print ads in Saturday’s ‘Weekend Shopper’ in the Courier Mail, Queensland (five free ads) and their sister paper, the Gold Coast Bulletin’s ‘Marketplace’ each Friday (three free ads). Just register on one of these sites to place ads on both. Ads are free every week for individual items up to $500 each (a total of $4,000 weekly). The deadline to place your ads is Tue or Wed. The ‘Wanted' or 'Garage Sale' ads usually have a cost so don’t use these papers for that type if you can't afford it. Ads and pictures on Gumtree are totally free, with no limit on the selling price or the number of ads you place. Always include pictures with your ads when selling anything if they are free.

Hold a Garage Sale. Be sure to clean everything well before the Saturday (I once held a garage sale on Friday evening near a shopping centre). Once things are clean, THEN price them. Open 7am till Noon at least. The key to success is to clean and price things well before the big day and then put up lots and lots of EASY TO READ signs. Make sure you make a note of where you put signs and take them down straight after your sale.

Look for really cheap things at Garage Sales on Saturdays, on eBay or Gumtree, or in the abovementioned Courier Mail or Gold Coast Bulletin. On Gumtree etc, search 'free'. If you need a pick up some distance away, phone a friend. Check my link to 'freecycle'.

If you need food for Christmas Dinner or anytime, why not ask Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, IGA Supermarkets, fruit and vegetable shops or bakers? Just contact their headquarters or, at a local store, ask to speak to the STORE MANAGER. These generous companies and people will help if they can.

Helping others

If you can’t afford to buy gifts for someone, whether for Christmas, birthdays, Easter or to thank someone who helped you, give them a gift of a service. Just write a nice card (make it yourself and it will be more appreciated) with your offer: massage, lawn mowing, gardening, car or house cleaning, sewing, tuition, cooking (what about a delicious cake?), baby sitting, shopping, etc.

Run a 'FREE FOOTPATH GIVEAWAY' in your street, block or suburb. Get a couple of organisers, pick a Saturday a few weeks away - not too soon - and letterbox the area. On the big day, it's best to put everything out on the footpath, not the front yard. Put smaller items on boxes or tables. Start at 9am (sharp). Go till noon and then hold a street party to meet your neighbours. Wow! Make sure everything is clean or repaired, well before the giveaway day.

With anything you have that you would like to give to someone, list items on Freecycle. Instead of dropping things off to an op shop, I find people who need the items. It takes more time but I love it.

When your own needs are fulfilled, why not find someone locally who doesn’t have much at all and help them have a great christmas, or life? How? Just love them by showing you care. Invite them for a dinner or at least a cuppa, do their lawn, help them clean the house or car or take them to the shops, etc. Why not give some flowers? Just find someone who has garden flowers and ask for a free bunch. You could even set up a table at the local shops to give things away or offer people a free back rub. I'm always giving free 5 minute shoulder massages to people at the markets. I got quite good at it. Nothing like practice in life.

Keep in mind that the most beautiful gift you can ever give anyone is love. No material object can match it. Recall the highlights in your life. Don't most of them involve love, not material things?

You get the idea, don’t you? Love is truly the greatest gift.

It's not about money. It's about caring.

I thank the wonderful people over the years who helped make the shops possible; those who gave free insurance, loaned the shops, gave juice for helpers, the beautiful people who helped in the shops, created superb signs, mowed the lawns, took the photographs, created this beautiful free website and the many generous hearts who brought thousands of presents in to give away and the lovely media folk who have always been so supportive in getting the message out to people. What a valuable job they do. I wish everyone could have seen the joy of people who took their gifts, as I do. You would be very happy you helped.

Let's plan early to have many shops around Australia in 2014? And why not overseas?

And let's keep the Spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts all year long. 

Christmas shops since 2009:

 2009 Burleigh Gold Coast, Queensland
 2010 Nundah, Brisbane, Qld Australia
 2011 Clayfield, Brisbane
 2012 Norman Park, Brisbane
 Click HERE for details...
 

 

2013 Wangaratta, Nth Victoria

 spiritofchristmaswangaratta.wordpress.com 

       2014 Coolum, Sunshine Coast, Queensland  

Live Broadcast 96.5 FM

96.5 FM did a direct broadcast from the Spirit of Christmas shop Tuesday (18th December 2012) from 3pm to 6pm. What a wonderful team! Many people who visited our shop say they heard about it on 96.5 FM.

This is how Dennis does it. So can you for Christmas.

Gather some friends to have the time of your lives. Perhaps three to six generous, reliable people. Meet up and each choose a task you enjoy. Write out some simple steps.

Find and borrow an empty shop with parking. Call it 'Spirit of Christmas (your city)'. Open 3 to 8 days before Xmas. Include Xmas Eve.

Get free Public Liability insurance.

People are very helpful. Borrow tables, covers, stands, mirror etc.

Ask local businesses to donate cleaning for windows and floors and shop signs.

Collect new gifts (or anything that looks brand new). Please, nothing 'second hand'. It's a gift shop, not an op shop. Ask people, not businesses as they usually do more than enough already. Fill the shop for the grand opening.

Tell everyone. Write a News Release. When the lovely folk on TV, radio, papers, groups and clubs hear of the shop, they'll tell everybody and people will bring in lots of new gifts.

Like to open a Spirit of Christmas Shop in 2014? Click here for more info.