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Sortings donations of foodstuffs and preparing for hamper packing.

Sorting donations of foodstuffs and preparing for hamper packing.

Surviving Christmas in top gear

This week the Surviving Christmas charity is in top gear, with a focus on packing and delivering hampers across Hastings and Rother ahead of opening its doors on Christmas and Boxing days to provide festive hospitality to those who would otherwise miss out. Nick Terdre reports. Photos by Surviving Christmas.

Ensconced in its Christmas centre in the Salvation Army hall in St Andrew’s Square, Surviving Christmas is again preparing 700 plus hampers to be personally delivered by van to recipients across Hastings and Rother. All recipients have been referred to the charity by statutory agencies or charities working with families and children. Larger families get two hampers and presents are also provided for children.

Each hamper contains a generous selection of foodstuffs, including tinned meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, pasta or rice, breakfast cereal, sweets, tea, coffee and fruit juice. Topping the contents is a card with seasonal greetings drawn by a local schoolchild.

Back on Boxing Day - the Old Town Ukelele Band.

Back on Boxing Day – the Old Town Ukelele Band.

Those who are able to get to the Salvation Army Centre in St Andrew’s Square behind South Terrace – whether living on the street, the elderly, the lonely or those lacking the resources to provide themselves with Christmas cheer at home – are welcomed to the Christmas and Boxing Day events.  Doors will be open from 10am to 4pm. Preparations are being made for 120 guests on Christmas Day and perhaps a few less on Boxing Day.

All the trimmings

Guests can enjoy a proper Christmas dinner on the day itself, with turkey, roast potatoes and all the trimmings, and gammon and bubble and squeak on Boxing Day. There are also snacks and drinks, hot and cold, available at all times.

For those who need it there is the opportunity to have a shower and a haircut, get their feet seen to and see a doctor. There is a free clothing store with ample supplies of all kinds of garments. There is also plenty of entertainment, including karaoke on Christmas Day, a visit from the Old Town Ukelele Band on Boxing Day, games to play, television to watch and music to listen to. There are also friendly volunteers to talk to, and comfortable chairs to take a nap in.

Collecting at Bonfire Night.

Collecting at Bonfire Night.

Following last year’s successful experiment, guests with dogs will be able to have their animals looked after outside while they enjoy themselves inside.

Townsfolk, businesses, other charities and local groups, schools and colleges rally round to provide the financial support and services to make Surviving Christmas’s mid-winter offer possible, from Crusader Vans which lends the vehicles for the hamper deliveries to food retailers Arcade Butchers, Gerald Matthews and Fountains which supply the meat, vegetables and fruit, and Hastings Furniture Services which provides the  armchairs, sofas and television.

Altogether Surviving Christmas lists some 40 companies, charities, retailers, educational institutions and other organisations which support its work on their website.

St Richard's Catholic College is one of many educational institutions which support Surviving Christmas.

Students of St Richard’s Catholic College present a cheque to Sue Evans, the charity’s chair of trustees. The college is one of many local educational institutions which support Surviving Christmas.

The writer is a Surviving Christmas volunteer.

Posted 08:34 Friday, Dec 21, 2018 In: Grassroots


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