St. Mary’s students once again discovered the joy of giving this Christmas. Every form group in the Academy was issued with a gift tag with the name and age of a child in need in the local area Three weeks of fundraising followed including sponsored events, an ‘own clothes’ day, chocolate bingo, lunchtime cafes, cake sales, quizzes etc. etc. Most forms raised enough to buy gifts for the homeless, young care leavers, families in need and food banks. The fundraising culminated in a presentation of 150 gifts. Mr Eccles’ office was bursting with dolls, bears, footballs, train tracks, music vouchers, make up, dressing up clothes, baby clothes, games, racing sets, luxury food hampers, hats, gloves, sleeping bags, toiletries etc. etc. Parents were also very generous on Parentpay and so we have also managed to make a donation to Streetlife. In total the students raised a whopping £3,644. 80 which brings our total since the appeal began in 2001 to £61,957.
The organisations who received the gifts including Caritas Care, Blackpool Coastal Housing, SVP, Salvation Army Bridge Project and Streetlife were overwhelmed. Heather O’Hanlon, who writes on behalf of Blackpool Coastal housing who work with families in emergency hostel accommodation wrote ‘The first year I attended I thought the school would buy a gift for each child. When I arrived, the school had not bought one gift for each child you had bought Christmas for every one of our children. There have been many happy tears over the years collecting the gifts, meeting the children at the school and seeing the faces of our parents and children at Christmas. My biggest dread is the thought of working with homeless children at Christmas and thanks to the kindness and generosity shown by St. Mary’s, Christmas is a happy time in the homeless hostels’.
Our Caring Community should be very proud of their efforts. As Jesus said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”.