Christmas is a time for silly spending and for eating and drinking. Whether you’re washing down canapés with a shot of tequila or consuming cheese by the hamper-load, it’s a season of excess.

But Christmas is also a time for helping others, something Adam Robinson, CEO and founder of DineSmart, is passionate about.

The DineSmart concept is simple. Enjoy a meal out at a participating restaurant and add a donation of $2 or more to your bill. Over the past 12 years, DineSmart has raised an impressive $3.4 million for the homeless, and this year it’s aiming to set a new national record and smash the $400,000 mark.

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Where does the money go? Every cent raised is redistributed among local grassroots projects working to support the homeless in their neighbourhoods. 100 per cent of money raised in Melbourne’s CBD, for example, will go towards breaking the cycle of homelessness in Melbourne’s CBD.

The $254,300 raised during DineSmart 2014 was given to local charities and not-for-profit organisations through 70 community grants.

Youth Projects Ltd. used its $5000 grant to supply 20 Winter Survival Kits to clients attending the Living Room Primary Care Clinic in Hosier Lane, Melbourne. Each kit contained items that would help keep people warm during the winter months: a swag, a thermal beanie, a scarf, socks, gloves, underwear and a sleeping bag.

A $5000 grant bought the Footpath Library a new van for its mobile service. The team distributes free books and refreshments to homeless people, and these books do not need to be returned. The project aims to make it easier for the homeless to access quality literature without the constraints of a public-library system.

Nicole Papasavas of 24-hour city stalwart Stalactites is a big fan of DineSmart. “People would like to do something good, but a lot of the time they don’t have an opportunity,” she says. “It would seem a lot of people are conditioned to walk past people who are homeless, rather than reaching into their pocket to give them some money. DineSmart is a really easy way for everyone to do their bit for charity.”

So far, 114 restaurants across Australia have signed up to DineSmart 2015, including ChinChin, Mamasita, Izakaya Den, Longrain Melbourne and Cumulus Up.

How can you play your part? Just tuck into a meal at one of the participating restaurants. It’s as simple as that. So, don’t be a scrooge this Christmas. Put your money where your mouth is and help out by dining out.

Find the participating DineSmart restaurants in your neighbourhood here.