Winchester Churches Christmas Project 2017
What would you like to be on your Christmas present list this year? The payment of a worrying bill? A top up on the electricity key? A second-hand fridge? Slightly unexpected Christmas gifts, one might think? However, this is quite normal territory for volunteers with Winchester Churches Christmas Project – who need to be understanding and flexible! Apart from the expected toys and festive food, the list might also include warm clothes (to replace those left when fleeing domestic violence), spectacles, carpeting, furniture, a morale-boosting treat …
This project was started in 1993 by The United Church and now involves many other churches in Winchester (15 last Christmas). It is an attempt to help those in Winchester for whom Christmas is a really difficult time. Money for the Project is raised each year through the churches – from whole congregations and from individuals.
Many of you will be very familiar with how the Project works but a brief explanation for newcomers:
From mid-November onwards, each pair of volunteers will visit a family that has been referred to us (by professional social work agencies) to ascertain their needs and then to shop with, or on behalf of, the family. Each family has a set amount of money allocated. There are no strings attached to our help. We show our Christian faith and witness in caring for and helping those we visit. Those visited are in charge as much as possible – they choose what will make Christmas special for them (hence the interesting examples above!). Sometimes the money is not the most important bit - knowing that someone is prepared to spend time and take the trouble to listen can mean a lot.
Over the years we have managed to transform Christmas for many families, and volunteers have found an extra blessing in their own Christmas celebrations.
We hope that those who have been so supportive in the past, and anyone now able to help, will participate this year through volunteering, prayer and with donations.
We will be contacting volunteers from previous years directly to ask if they are able to help again this year. However, if you are new to the Project and would like more information with a view to volunteering, then please contact me as soon as possible. A newcomer will always be paired with an experienced volunteer. We need to know volunteer numbers by 5 November.
Donations can be made via The United Church – ideally by mid-November. I realise that this is an early date but we do need to have an idea of what funds we have available before allocating money to families. Cheques should be made out to ‘Winchester Churches Christmas Project’ and if you pay tax and wish to Gift Aid please add ‘Gift Aid’ to the project name. Gift Aid envelopes and special collecting boxes will be available at church from October.
Thank you very much. Helen McTiffin