Photo: Charity Week St Andrews

Charity Week: Living the Bucketing Life

Raahim Zafar takes us to the ground floor of charity work.

“Why is there a huge astronaut walking around Market Street taking selfies with strangers?” In retrospect, this tactic would have gotten us a bit more attention than the usual student stall.

You might have seen us, you might have heard us, you might have spoken to us (or somehow managed to avoid us), but last week Charity Week hit the streets of St Andrews, armed with some funky space themed T-shirts, leaflets and buckets (and, in my case, a silly hat).

This international, student-led campaign began with a small group of British universities thirteen years ago and has raised over £5 million since it was launched in 2003. Proceeds go to orphans and children in need across the developing world and regions plagued my conflict.

The St Andrews Team started Charity Week 2016 on an ironic note: selling foreign tea in “The Bubble” while cheerfully rapping “Bubble Tea, Bubble Tea, Bubble Tea for Chari-Tea!” at the face of stressed students, which turned out to be quite efficient. 

We maintained our energy throughout the week holding events everyday. This included: a homemade Moroccan Dinner; a very popular bagel sale (I didn’t even get to glimpse the chocolate bagels); and on Thursday night we held a Yoga class, a bake sale and a FIFA tournament all at the same time!

Apart from events, a good part of the money we raise in St Andrews comes from going around Market Street, shaking our space-themed buckets in people’s faces, asking them “excuse me, Sir / Madam do you have any change to spare for orphans?” (read: guilt tripping strangers for a good cause). It is what those “in the know” call “bucketing”, something we did every day in addition to holding our events.

Photo: Charity Week St Andrews
Photo: Charity Week St Andrews

Walking around St Andrews bucketing for an hour and a half last Monday has been, by far, the most difficult thing I’ve had to do since coming to St Andrews. To quote a friend, bucketing, for a large part, felt like “people were punching you in the stomach.”One would think that catching people’s attention in such a small town would be a piece of cake, but it seems that students never carry cash with them, that members of the public are masters of eye contact avoidance techniques, and that certain well-dressed middle aged men have developed a particularly disdainful way of saying “no”.

After the first few minutes of your bucketing experience, you already feel like a mad(wo)man who’s talking to thin air and therein begins the downwards spiral of self-loathing and questioning your entire existence.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Some gestures of generosity just warm up your heart and lighten your day.  During our bagel sale on Wednesday, two people walked past, then walked back just to put some change in our buckets. What amazed me about this is that I was certain that I had seen both sat on the street earlier in the week. This reminded me of a saying: “the best charity is that given by one who has little,” and maybe the most generous people are those who have the least to give.

Our struggle and our efforts this week culminated, quite literally, when we went on a sponsored climb of a very misty Ben Lomond on Saturday. We lost some people along the way – probably to the highland cows – but it was all for a good cause.

If you are reading this and weren’t able to donate during the week but would still like to, there are a few ways to go about it. You could donate by text, by following the instructions on the poster below, or you could also donate directly to the online page. (or me, pick me)

Finally, a huge thank you, on behalf of all of us, to everyone who has donated so far and to everyone who has come to our events this week!

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