What have David Beckham, Jade Jagger and Budgens got in common? They all support the Clic Sargent children's charity. Jade Jagger designed a bracelet for it, which Budgens sold in its stores and which David Beckham has been photographed wearing.
Clic Sargent supports children and young people with cancer and leukaemia, and their families, by providing clinical, psychosocial, emotional and financial services. Budgens has been supporting the charity for three years and has raised just over £300,000 (its target is £100,000 a year). The bracelets, designed by Jade Jagger for Asprey, cost £1 and in addition to selling these, Budgens stores host events such as Family Fun Days to raise money for the charity.
Of course, the Jade Jagger bracelet is a posh version of the plastic charity wristband first introduced by champion cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong in 2004. More than 50 million yellow plastic 'Live Strong' wristbands had been sold worldwide by May 2005, and the bands inspired numerous copies associated with all sorts of causes - everything from breast cancer to bullying. But perhaps the best known in the UK are the white 'Make Poverty History' bands from last summer - apparently eight million were sold.
Of course, as c-store retailers you run businesses not charities, but it does make good business sense to support a charity - particularly a local one - to show you care. Suffolk retailer Alec Gardner runs a Budgens in the small village of East Bergholt. He says he loves the fact that his shop plays such a big part in the community and so he's keen to give something back. It's a sentiment shared by a lot of retailers who rely on local support.
Perhaps the simplest way to support a charity is to sell a wristband or have a collection box by the till. Such has been the popularity of wristbands that local charities have been selling them, too. The Rossendale Hospice in Lancashire sold bright yellow wristbands with the words 'I support my local hospice' on them. Hospice fundraising manager Sharon Lees says she's also had success in selling £1 trolley keyrings - so customers always have a pound coin handy to get their trolley.
James Neary of JA Neary in Rossendale sold the hospice wristbands in his shop. He says: "They were very popular and we were happy to have them to support the hospice. We support local charities wherever we can. We sold a calendar that featured local people semi-naked - everyone bought one just to see what people looked like.
"We also have a 'Penny Pinching' box where people can put their loose change - it doesn't just take pennies but also 2p and other small coins. Kids around here are very generous; they're always putting their spare change in the boxes."
It's surprising how popular collection boxes are. Robert Byford of Byford's Food Hall in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, has six by his tills, including those for a local hospice, Air Ambulance and local animal charities.
He says: "They fill up quickly. The charities come and collect them but I keep spares so they don't miss out on any coins."
It's a similar story at Mark Bamforth's shop in Lytham St Anne's, Lancashire, where he has collection boxes for cancer, the British Heart Foundation, Air Ambulance and polio to name but a few. He says they all do well.
Mark's not a stranger to raising money for charity. He raised £1,500 for the local hospital by producing a recipe book and he's currently behind a petition to keep one of the operating theatres in the hospital open. He thinks it's important for local businesses to give something back to the community.
In Suffolk, Budgens retailer Alec Gardner says his customers are very supportive of charity, in particular local causes such as the HeartWatch campaign that funds having defibrillators in the village, including one in Alec's shop. "We've found that people prefer to make a donation rather than buy something like a wristband. They often put their change in the charity boxes."
All in all, it's rather heartwarming to know there's such support about. Local charities are particularly popular so if you're not supporting one yet perhaps you should give it some thought.

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