How giving back changed the Banks family Christmas tree

Glue, string, and a few pictures brings the Banks family closer to one of the good causes they’ve been helping through the Solo Expenses Giving Back initiative, helping them to discover how massive life changes could be achieved through co-operation and a relatively small amount of money.

Alice galloped into the kitchen, blonde curls bobbing up and down. “Mummy, Mummy, Daddy says we need glue and string. Please can I have them? We’re mending the Christmas tree.”

Lizzie’s internal radar began flashing red. “Why are you mending the Christmas tree? What’s wrong with it? Has Daddy broken something?”

Alice defended her father Ollie. “No, we’re making extra decorations. Daddy’s printing them out now.”

Lizzie was intrigued. What was her husband up to? She began to suspect a conspiracy involving her father-in-law Ron Banks, and went to investigate. What she found warmed her heart, once Ollie had explained the plan.

“It’s the Solo Expenses Giving Back initiative to help others,” he explained. “One of the charities Solo Expenses regularly donates to is called Sightsavers, which does eye surgery in the third world. Anyone who uses Solo Expenses is supporting the work of Sightsavers in a campaign the charity calls a Million Miracles. They’ve done almost 850,000 cataract operations, changing all those people’s lives. I think it’s fantastic, and shows how easy giving back to society can be. Would you like to cut out some of these shapes with us?”

Lizzie said she would, and went off to get more scissors. Ollie went out to the shed and came back with a ball of twine. Alice was put in charge of a small pot of PVA glue by Ollie, much against Lizzie’s better judgment.

Helping others
Each of the pictures they were cutting out showed people who’d been helped by the Sightsavers campaign, which proved that everyone supporting them was a real change maker. There was Baraka, who was born with cataracts, and would never have seen his mum without life-changing surgery; Winesi, the first person to be treated under the scheme three years ago; and Laurinda, who suffered from the condition for a year, and without an operation would never have seen her daughter’s face.

“These are very moving stories,” said Lizzie. “It’s the kind of thing you don’t really realise is happening in the world, and it’s so easy to support a cause like this with the help of a company like Solo Expenses that has the right attitude to giving back.

Be a change maker
Whilst Lizzie had been finishing the cutting out of pictures from the Sightsavers template (You can use it too; find it here), Ollie had been helping Alice to stick them together. Liberal amounts of glue were being used, but more than half was reaching its intended destination. Much of the remainder was on Alice’s fingers and t-shirt. A blob had fallen onto the floor, and the family Basset Hound Biffo had investigated it, to check if it was edible. Finding that it wasn’t, he trundled off back to his basket.

The trio spend little more than 30 minutes on making the decorations, and Alice was allowed to put them on the tree. This meant they were on the lower branches, but that didn’t bother anyone.

Lizzie went away and returned with a damp flannel, a towel and a clean t-shirt for her daughter. Alice saw them and stepped backwards, saying: “Don’t wash me; I’m lovely already. Grandad Ron says so!”

“Does he indeed,” said her mum. “Your Grandad Ron’s a charmer, but he doesn’t charm me. You need your hands washing…”