There is no better gift than the gift of giving. Andrea Wright demonstrated this last Christmas when she got in touch with her local non-profit organisation, St Alban’s Action for Homeless. The charity provides the best possible aid they can for homeless people, from food services to offering clean clothes and underwear.

When Andrea asked if they were organising Christmas sacks that year, they responded saying that they had not had the chance to. However, with Andrea keen to help, they asked whether she would be responsible for the project. Delighted, Andrea began reaching out on social media for all the help she could get.

The Gift of Giving: Andrea’s Story

News spread, and Andrea received over £2000 worth of items, whether it be from donations or from an Amazon wish list. With the overwhelming number of items, Andrea was able to put together 15 bags, with around £150 worth of items in each. 

The bags contained essentials that would keep the receivers warm and safe. This included a head torch, biscuits, thermals, clean clothes, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, toothbrush and toothpaste, hand gel, blankets, a foam mat, a mug, Greggs vouchers, chocolates, and gift sets. 

With the help of Andrea’s son’s school, How Wood Primary School, they were able to have expert teams of gift wrappers and card writers to help in the operation. 

“There were tears and joy from those who received their goodies,” Andrea says when describing the touching moments she experienced when delivering the bags. 

Andrea has demonstrated how much joy can be brought to the world with the help of a community, looking out for one another. Had it not been for her, the Christmas sacks would not have organised in 2020, but now, she is excited to organise it every year! 

The current lockdown situation puts her plans of organising Valentine’s gift bags on hold. However, she did see an opportunity for everybody to get involved with through a charity in Hemel Hempstead called Dens. They run an initiative called “First Impressions”, where homeless people can have access to clean clothes for occasions, such as job interviews and funerals. Andrea is now collecting washed and clean clothes that can be donated to Dens. So far, there have been over 50 bags of clothes donated, and more to come.

Having suffered from mental health issues herself, Andrea shared that helping out with these non-profit organisations gave her something positive to focus on.

We can all learn from Andrea and her story. Helping those who are in less fortunate situations than ourselves can bring a smile to both their and our faces. It’s win-win.

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About Author

Cheryl is a final year student studying biomedical sciences at UCL. She hopes to use what she has learnt from her degree to work in a field where she can change the face of medicine.

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