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Spread The Love This Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day means different things to different people. For some, it is a time to shower your other half in love. You spend the weeks leading up to it painstakingly organising every detail of that big romantic gesture you have planned. Your house has more flowers in it than a florist shop and there is probably an excessively large cuddly toy sat somewhere in the house that will later relocate to the loft. For some, it is an excuse to crack open the Malibu and get your Beyoncé on with the girls. Others, like myself, simply spend the day in their PJs watching all the soppy films on TV eating chocolates (that we bought ourselves) and generally not making much of an effort. Probably a takeaway pizza will emerge at some point during the course of the evening.

Whichever category you fall into, it has to be said that February is all about one thing - luuurve. Mainly romantic love but I think we should expand this holiday and make it about all types of love. The type of love I want to focus on this year is love for your fellow man. So, I have put together a list of things that you and I could do to celebrate this season and to show a little love to one another.

Donate to a food bank
Being someone who has actually used a food bank before, I can affirm that food banks are so necessary in our society and I feel that they are really testament to the generosity and goodness of the general public. You can usually donate at your local supermarket. Make sure you donate long life foods such as UHT milk - nothing fresh that will go off quickly. Great things to donate, alongside the general pasta and rice, is tinned fruit as often people on low income are unable to get enough fruit and veg into their diets. Also little treats like chocolate are great as these are the things that people on low incomes often have to forgo so it is nice to receive a treat like that.

Put together hygiene kits for homeless women
If you can barely afford to feed yourself, buying sanitary products is often not an option. A great way to spread love in your community this Valentine's is by putting together hygiene kits and donating them to homeless charities to be distributed amongst the women there. The kits could include a variety of sanitary products, wipes, hand sanitiser, tissues, and a few mini toiletries.

Donate to charity shops
People on low incomes often rely on charity shops to buy clothes - both for themselves and their children. Donating to charity shops not only gives these people products to buy but also gives money to the charity itself. Donating things like baby clothes, bibs, blankets, and other baby things after you have finished with them allows other parents to provide their baby with these items which they may have not been able to otherwise.

Donate breastmilk to a milk bank
This is a scheme that I only recently heard about but would have loved to be involved in - if my milk supply had been enough. The donated milk goes mostly to hospitals to help feed premature or ill babies. You just sign up online and they will send you out a starter pack. Every donor is required to have a blood test before donating to ensure that they are free from any disease that could be passed through the milk. You can find out more here.

Sign up to be an organ donor
This is an easy way to do a great amount of good. You might even save a life. If you're in the UK, you can sign up here or talk to your GP.

Offer to babysit
Being a new mum, I can really tell you how much this one means. If someone in your family or a close friend of yours has just had a kid or just hasn't had a break in a while, offer to babysit. It is lovely just to have some time out either with your partner or just by yourself.

Check in on elderly neighbours
Loneliness amongst the elderly is a huge problem in the UK especially those who have mobility issues which stop them from being able to get out of the house as often as they'd like. If you have an elderly neighbour, why not pop over - maybe even under the guise of asking if a parcel has been dropped off there - and introduce yourself. If you already talk with them sometimes, stop over and ask if they need anything from the shop or if they'd like to come over for a cup of tea.

Donate blood
This one may seem a little scary - I never liked having my blood taken but, after giving birth, I have no fear left. Donating blood is another way to make a great deal of difference to someone's life - especially if you fall into a rarer blood group.

How are you spending Valentine's Day? What tips have you got for brightening up someone's day?

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