How to donate time or money for a good cause in Italy this Christmas

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
How to donate time or money for a good cause in Italy this Christmas
Christmas shopping in Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

For many of us, Christmas is a time of the year to indulge and treat ourselves, spending extra time with friends and family and tucking in to plenty of delicious food.


But it's also a good time to think about helping those who might be having a less than merry Christmas.

As a foreigner in Italy, it can be difficult to find out about opportunities to volunteer locally, particularly if your Italian skills need some work, so The Local has gathered together a list of ways to donate your time and money for a good cause across the country.

If you know of any other charities which are accepting help or donations in Italy this Christmas, get in touch at [email protected]

READ ALSO: Six quirky traditions that make an Italian Christmas


In Ostia, you can leave a gift for someone in need under a tree set up in the main square of the Rome suburb by a local charity aiming to show resistance to the recent mafia violence in the area. You can put any gift there -- just write on it whether it's most suitable for a man, woman, or child -- and it will remain up until Epiphany on January 6th, with the first gifts given out on December 23rd. It doesn't have to be a traditional Christmas gift either; for example, volunteers said someone left a stove that they no longer needed, which was given to an elderly man who needed it.


On December 16th you can take part in a Santa run, a five-kilometre fancy dress race with a €5 entry fee which will be used to support children with cancer. This is just one of many similar events across the country, including in Genoa, Novara, and Bergamo -- check out the Babbo Running website for full details and more information about Italy's largest Christmas race.



And the Milanese Fondazione Francesca Rava has a shop selling Christmas gifts and other products which will help children in Haiti and in the earthquake-hit regions of central Italy, primarily by helping to build and restore schools. The shop also has a website, with products from the quake-hit regions marked in yellow.

Milan will also host a 'Solidarity Market' on December 16th and 17th at the city's Palazzo dei Giureconsulti with a range of gifts donated by businesses and made by local organizations. Funds go to Exodus, an Italian charity supporting young people with social problems such as substance abuse.


A Christmas Shop run by the Paideia Foundation, which helps local children living in difficulty, will be open until December 23rd. Gifts sold at the shop will help fund a new music room at the organization's centre.


Perhaps the easiest way to do a good deed is by taking part in the 'sciarpa sospesa' (suspended scarf) initiative. Simply tie a scarf to a tree, so that a homeless person or person in need can take it and wrap up warm this Christmas.

Alternatively, you can take part in an annual dinner for those who are alone on Christmas Day - find out more details on the Facebook page and send an email ahead of the organizational meeting on December 16th. This is probably an event where understanding Italian is useful!


Save the Children runs a global ‘Christmas Jumper Day’ on December 15th, so it's well worth doing a quick search to see if there’s a Christmas jumper party planned in your area.

Or you can achieve two goals at once, by giving a donation to charity in return for having your festive purchases gift-wrapped. 

At Feltrinelli bookshops, you can have your purchases gift-wrapped by volunteers in exchange for a donation to Mani Tesi, an NGO which campaigns for social, economic, and environmental justice -- or apply to volunteer (you'll need to have at least four hours free) by filling out this form.

And at a range of stores including Coin and Eataly, gift-wrapping volunteers will be raising money for Coopi's campaign to help children living in war zones.

Volunteers from humanitarian organization Cesvi will be doing gift-wrapping at over 70 of Italy's Mondadori bookshops, with donations going towards an orphanage in Zimbabwe. Find a list of the shops participating here.

If you've got some free time, you can also join the volunteers taking part in the fundraiser, which is a great option if you only have a few hours to spare. More information, including the cities and dates where volunteers are needed, is on the website.

READ ALSO: The twelve best Italian Christmas gifts to give this year

Alternatively, get a gift that does good by buying from a charitable organization or social cooperative.

Many Italian charities sell Christmas gifts and decorations, including Anffas, which supports people with disabilities and their families; the Italian Cancer Research Association; Cesvi which works on emergency and development projects in the world's poorest countries; and AISM, which helps fund research on multiple sclerosis and is selling Christmas star decorations.

Italy's earthquake-struck central region is still recovering from the devastation in 2016. It's an area famed for its agriculture and delicious food from truffles to ham, and buying local products will help sustain the region's economy and support local businesses; the Tasting Marche website is a good place to start and is all in English.

Italian organization Emergency offers free medical and surgical treatment to victims of wars, violence, and poverty worldwide. Throughout the month of December, it is holding 'Christmas spaces' where you can buy gifts ranging from jewellery to children's toys to natural cosmetics, with funds going to projects to support war victims in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are held in  Milan , Rome , Bari , Bologna , Brescia , Cagliari , Florence , Genoa , L'Aquila , Naples , Padua , Turin and Trento -- see the website for locations and further details. 

Emergency is also hosting Christmas aperitivos and dinners to raise money in Aprilia, Terni, and Pavia, with more details on their events page.

If you know of another way people can donate time or money to a good cause in Italy this Christmas, get in touch at [email protected]

READ ALSO: Ten fun things to do in Italy in December


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