Acts of kindness come in many forms

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This is the time of year when heart-warming stories really do grow on trees, a period when even Noel Edmonds reduces grown men to tears.

This year’s classic Yuletide yarn is one guaranteed to melt even the iciest of hearts – the tale about an elderly widow who is paying for up to 50 strangers to enjoy Christmas dinner on her.

The 86-year-old – we don’t know her name – is shelling out £1,000 to hire out an entire pub to ensure that a group of people who she doesn’t necessarily know will not go without a butter-basted Norfolk Bronze and Pigs in Blankets this year.

The woman, who clearly has a bob or two and regularly gives to charity, says she was moved to make her latest big hearted gesture following the seemingly constant recent coverage about the rise and rise of food banks.

The debate about whether or not volunteer-run food banks have a place in modern Britain is a fierce one. It could be said it is the embodiment of what David Cameron had in mind when he banged on about the Big Society, which is hardly mentioned these days.

Whether or not you agree with charity doing a job which many regard to be that of the State’s, there cannot be many who are not moved by the magnificent act of kindness from this anonymous OAP.

It would not occur to the vast majority of us to spend a grand on dinner for anybody, let alone a bunch of people we don’t know, but this is what Christmas does to some folk and I take my hat off to them all.

There was a time not so long ago when thinking about anybody outside my circle of family and friends was an alien concept. Now I feel I should do my bit, even though it is the teeniest of drops in a gigantic ocean. To misquote Smashie and Nicey, I don’t do a lot for charity but I do like to talk about it.

My good deed for this year is to volunteer a small amount of my time to help at a homeless shelter. It is early days yet, but the sense of being able to help make a difference is a satisfying one.

Sadly life gets in the way of me doing more as I would dearly love to match the contribution made by those who I probably would have dismissed as do-gooders not so long ago. The genuine love and compassion that I have witnessed first hand in recent weeks is one of the most humbling experiences of my life and has taught me that kindness comes in many forms, whether it be a generous old lady or volunteers who put others before themselves .