Reversing the advent calendar for a good cause

October 24, 2021 BY

Rach Francis with one of the Reverse Advent Calendar boxes. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

INSTEAD of opening a window and getting a chocolate during December, some families will be loading up a box with food for the less fortunate.

Belmont’s Rach Francis helped co-ordinate Geelong’s Reverse Advent Calendar drive in 2019 and 2020, and is doing so again this year.

Starting on December 1, participants will put one non-perishable item into a box each day for 20 days, with the boxes collected and distributed by The Salvation Army in the days before Christmas.

“Christmas is normally about receiving, and those advent calendars are normally about getting things; this is about giving back,” Mrs Francis said.

She said she was inspired by a friend in Ballarat to set up a Reverse Advent Calendar in Geelong.

“She had 1,300 boxes last year – I got just over 100, so it’s early days, but you never know, I might get there.

“I’d love to get to 200 boxes this year; that would be my goal.”

There is no set list of items to go in the box on particular days, rather a list of ideas.

“You can do whatever you want,” Mrs Francis said. “Some families get really involved, their children will sometimes put away their pocket money for the whole year, and then they’ll go and buy the things and put them in, so it can be a real family affair.

“Some people are really thoughtful, too – some people think about Christmas, and they’ll put in some bon bons or some treats as well as the practical things.

“Food security is a huge issue at the moment, increasingly with COVID, so these organisations are really needing help, and this is a way that people in the Geelong community can get involved and do something.”

The Bellarine and Corio branches of The Salvation Army will be distributing the boxes, and Mrs Francis said several other Salvos branches had also reached out to express interest.

“The Salvos tell stories about women breaking into tears when the box arrives, realising they don’t have to worry about food for that Christmas; they can fill their pantries.”

For more details, search for the Reverse Advent Calendar Geelong group on Facebook.