DO you support a particular charity or organisation? Many people regularly give their time and money to something they care about.

During the course of two and a half hours standing holding a collection bucket in Tesco’s at Middlebrook last week, I had time to ponder over the nature of giving.

I don’t mention this to gain more Brownie points in the big double entry book-keeping ledger of life but because I wanted to. Interestingly, this task also gives you a unique take on other people’s reactions to charitable giving.

Being a regular shopper there, I’d already decided that I didn’t want to automatically face the tide of shoppers taking their goods towards the exit, trying to catch their eye. It just seemed fairer to let people off the hook if they didn’t want to give.

Actually, it probably worked just as well because shoppers were particularly generous in supporting the charity, the Fortalice refuge for women and children escaping domestic abuse.

Some popped notes into my bucket along with the change. Some stopped for a chat about the charity and its vital work (I’m on the Fortalice board so I could answer their questions). Some praised its work – and I had to come clean and admit I was a volunteer and the real work was done by the amazing staff at the charity’s refuge and support centre.

Apart from sore feet and feeling a bit achy standing there on one spot for a chunk of the afternoon, I felt really uplifted by people’s active interest in the charity and their willingness to donate what they could afford.

It’s never easy asking people for money, especially these days when there are so many calls on our cash. But, it was a very positive experience as an individual and it brought much-needed cash in to the charity as well as raising its profile.

It’s a strange thing, though, that whenever I’ve written positively about local charities and volunteering, this has attracted a fair amount of criticism. Although I’m completely genuine in stating what thousands of people already know - that volunteering gives as much back as it gains for others - it’s not an ethos accepted by everyone.

And, of course, they are entitled to their opinion. Nor are their comments any necessary indication of whether or not they support charities in other ways.

Bolton is a town built on the goodwill of people. Its early benefactors poured money into the town, paid towards hospitals and parks, investing their time and money into developing the borough.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and many important services – for the elderly, children, homeless people, those with disabilities – are provided by volunteers. These are people who choose to help others, not just out of altruistic motives but because they know that it gives something back to them.

This isn’t smug, charity one-upmanship, but a simple equation. You give out, you get back. What goes around comes around. Call it what you want, it’s definitely there.