They’re as common a Christmas feature as the turkey and the tree, but not at one West Norfolk day centre.
Staff and customers at the William Day Centre in Tilney St Lawrence have swapped Christmas cards for a spot of festive charity work in aid of the Lynn Foodbank.
Instead of the traditional exchange of festive greetings, they were encouraged to buy a food or toiletry item to help a family in need this festive season.
And five bags of supplies were given to the charity last Friday morning.
Centre manager Sherralyn Clark said: “We asked the customers and they all thought it was a good idea and it just escalated from there.
The scheme, which was the idea of one of her staff members, Sabrina DiPasquale, was the first time they had attempted such a project.
And its success is likely to inspire further community initiatives.
Mrs Clark said: “I’m sure we will find a different charity next year.”
Foodbank officials gave out 277 emergency food parcels last Christmas and expect to provide a similar total this year.
But the project’s co-ordinator, Maarten Klem, said donations are up this year compared to the same time last year..
He said: “We’ve been blown away by the generosity of people this year.
“We’ve had more donations, which is absolutely brilliant, and the William Day Centre is a big part of that.”
“The demand is quite a lot higher in the run-up to Christmas. There’s a lot of pressure around buying presents for children and meeting the commercialist view of Christmas.”
Among the initiatives used to promote the Foodbank this year has been the reverse Advent calendar, where supporters give an item to the charity instead of receiving a treat themselves.
The centre, which employs six members of staff and three volunteers, caters for around 35 elderly people each week, many of whom live alone. It also provides support for people who are living with dementia.
And there is plenty of festive spirit, as the building has been hosting Christmas parties and lunches all this week, with catering provided by the Gravy Boat restaurant in Loke Road, North Lynn.
Earlier this year, its owner, Francis Bone, became co-ordinator of the new Food Waste Donation Charity Co-operative, which brings together organisations including the Foodbank, Genesis, the Benjamin Foundation, the YMCA and groups that support people following release from prison.
Mrs Clark said his efforts had also helped to inspire their charitable efforts.
She said: “We thought he was doing a very good thing and we should support him.”