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  • To what purpose...

    Last year, like lots of other people, I gave chocolate advent calendars and selection boxes to the local foodbank. I have done the same today.

    I know foodbanks aren't the answer to food poverty.

    I also know what it is like having to choose between buying food and paying utility bills - and not because I was on benefit but because mortgage interest was over 17% and wages frozen (late 1980s).

    And I know what it is like to depend on handouts because state benefits just won't cover everything... from free school meals to WVS clothes parcels, and even, if memory serves half a hundredweight of coal from an anonymous benefactor, my family was glad to receive help from others back in the 1970s when long term sickness prevented my Dad from working.

    An advent calendar or a choice of chocolate bars won't solve the problems of food or fuel poverty, but it might just bring a smile to someone's face and restore a teeny bit of hope.

    A woman once poured a jar of expensive perfume over the feet of an itinerant rabbi and was criticised by those who saw: "surely she could have sold it and given the money to the poor." The rabbi sighed, and observed "you will always have poor people. What she has done is beautiful." I like to think that some chocolate added to a bag of tins and packets might carry just a hint of such loveliness.