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Wednesday, 17 December 2014
This year, the charity Urban Outreach decided to almost double the number of Christmas Hampers they give to families in need, and once again Bolton School answered the call. Pupils offered to put together 1,000 boxes of after-dinner mints and 4,000 crackers in just a couple of weeks, so that families in Bolton who might otherwise miss out will be able to enjoy a traditional Christmas Dinner.
The project was coordinated by Mrs Sophie Entwistle, a teacher in Bolton School Girls’ Division and Head of Community Action at the School, with a team of Sixth Form girls leading the push for donations. Ananya Baksi, Lisa Quinn, Ellie McGiven, Eleanor Harding, Emma Raynor and Amber Tobin were the key players in this year’s campaign and worked tirelessly to raise enough donations to fill the 1,000 hampers Urban Outreach are aiming to put together this year.
After last year’s successful project, in which pupils raised enough donations to buy 600 Christmas puddings and 600 festive packets of biscuits, this year’s pupils were under pressure to out-do their predecessors. However, their determination saw them beat last year’s efforts and hit their goals with both crackers and after-dinner mints!
In school, the girls organised a cake sale and a separate brownies and sweets sale, and also held a stall at the Junior Boys’ School Christmas Fair. They also gave up their evenings on three occasions to pack bags at a local supermarket. They even put together home-made mini bunting to sell at the Girls’ Division Ceremony of Carols, making £100 from this venture alone!
Lisa said, “I saw it as a big challenge, and also as a good challenge to do. It seemed impossible and there were times when we didn’t know if we would be able to do it, but we just knew we would somehow. We had a really good team who were all willing to give up a lot of their own time. Even though it’s been hard, we’ve all loved every day of it. It’s been worth all of the hard work.”
Pupils at Hesketh House, the Junior Girls’ School, joined in with the campaign, donating an amazing 101 boxes of after-dinner mints. The Boys’ Division also helped out by holding ‘Give Up A Snack Week’, during which boys donated the money they would have spent on one snack to Urban Outreach instead.
Dave Bagley, Chief Executive of Urban Outreach, was hugely appreciative of all of the pupils’ efforts and congratulated them on doing such a good job. He also said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something as profound as this project. There are 40,000 people involved in collecting the donations for the Christmas Hampers. That’s one and a half times the number of people it would take to fill the Macron Stadium. To know that the person who receives a hamper has had 40,000 people thinking about them, that’s really something. It’s a privilege for you to be able to give, it’s a privilege for us to receive those gifts, and it’s a privilege to give what other people have given.”
Mrs Sophie Entwistle, a teacher in Bolton School Girls’ Division and Head of Community Action at the School, was also very impressed with the efforts of all pupils.
“This has been a huge challenge, but the project has developed the team’s resourcefulness. In their heads they just decided that they were going to hit the target, even if that meant thinking every night, ‘What else can we do?’ up to the very last day,” she said. “When you meet someone like Dave, who is so inspirational, you can’t help but feel that you can make a difference to people’s lives. It’s been really tough this week, but for those 1,000 families in need of hampers, life is pretty tough every day, and that’s the thought that makes it pay off.”
Urban Outreach will donate each of the 1,000 hampers to a family in the local area who has been nominated to receive an extra-special gift this Christmas. These include families in poverty, distress, or affected by illness, who have had to put Christmas on hold. Each hamper contains everything needed to make a traditional Christmas Dinner, from the meal itself to the crackers and party hats.
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