At this time each year, up and down the country parents are being asked to fill shoe boxes with gifts to be sent out to children in need.
Whilst it's an admirable idea, we for one family will not be participating this year - nor did we last year.
I'm not going to get into a big debate about the organisation Samaritan's Purse, it's been discussed ad nauseam. But what I do think is important, is that parents make informed decisions, so if you've not heard both sides of the argument, toddle off to your nearest search engine and have a read...
Are you back? OK. So, here's why we won't be participating.
We are not a practicing Christian family. Yes, we do celebrate Christmas, but to us it's about the concept of goodwill and giving to others less fortunate. As a non-religious person I'm not comfortable with my gift being administered and distributed by an evangelical group. I want to give my gift freely, unconditionally and without strings. I don't want it to be handed with even the remotest possibility that it will be given together with religious brochures and pamphlets or for there to be any suggestion that the young recipient attends a meeting, class or workshop.
That's me. You will no doubt have your own views.
What I do know though is that we still want to be involved in charitable gift giving - particularly at this time of the year. So we will be sitting down, as a family to choose an item from Save the Children's Wishlist.
For me, it's a brilliant concept. Rather than putting some money in a tin or writing a cheque, using the Wishlist allows Ruby to actually see a real gift. It has more meaning and is more tangible, so she can know, that by buying for example the gift of seeds, it will help a less fortunate family to feed themselves and become more financially independent by selling their surplus crop at market.
There are lots of gifts to choose from starting at £5, and each gift is categorised so you can choose to support a certain area such as education; emergency and crisis aid or natal care.
So, if you don't want to support the shoe box campaign, please remember there are alternative gift ideas which will do an awful lot of good for someone who really needs it.