This year I set myself the hair-brain challenge to try to raise £10,000.00 for ten incredible charities. Why? Because it’s something that I’ve never achieved before and I knew that it would be very difficult. Not only did I want to give back to the local community and help those in need but I also wanted to inspire others to undertake fitness challenges for the benefit of their own health whilst supporting good causes.
To date I have raised almost £7,000 since this summer and donated £1,000 to WheelPower by cycling 60km to help disabled men women and children, £1,000 to The Firefighters Charity by climbing Mount Snowdon for the rehabilitation injured servicemen and women, £1,000 to Cancer Research by running their 5km Race For Life for cancer patients, £1,000 to The Florence Nightingale Hospice by running 10km to provide a week of palliative care, £1,000 to The Ducklings Trust baby unit at Stoke Mandeville by swimming 100m to fund the purchase of vital equipment for the neonatal unit and I have just completed a 100rep workout challenge at Anytime Fitness Aylesbury with Personal Trainer Tom Davenport to raise £1,000 to feed the homeless of Aylesbury.
When I decided to raise sponsorship for food donations I never imagined the scale of what this would become, as I do my weekly food shop at Aldi Aylesbury and £50.00 can fill a trolley and my car with enough fresh and healthy food to feed my whole family. Unsurprisingly £1,000 worth of food doesn’t fit into my hatchback, nor would it sit too well in my hallway as I’m pretty sure it could fill an entire kitchen several times over to bursting point. I also questioned which types of food would be most useful to those in need; tinned goods, meats, dairy produce or even festive treats such as mince pies and fruity tea bags, the things that we all take for granted day to day. So I spoke to Aldi head office and they very kindly offered to send a lorry load of food direct from their distribution warehouse for me.
But how will I know who to help locally with so much food? I’ve taken a trolley load of food to the Aylesbury Homeless Action Group with my children at Christmas before but I doubt they would have the facilities to store and disperse a whole lorry load, and delivering it on a main road with railings might also be tricky. So I’ve arranged to meet my local MP Mr David Lidington on Fiday 30th October 2015 to ask for advice on how best to manage this.
I have printed a list to take along with points to consider:
-Which types of food to purchase and in which quantity– tinned goods, meats, dairy, fruit and perishables, luxury items, festive treats
-Where to deliver a lorry of food to in Aylesbury – one destination or multiple destinations, storage and public access to prevent wastage
-Which local charities will benefit from a food donation – Aylesbury Homeless Action Group, hospice afternoon tea and treats, family centres, children’s hospital units, church groups, youth groups etc. Friars Square mince pies stall and a charitable message/leaflets?
-A date and time to accept delivery
I hope that I can encourage people to think of others at this special time of year, to add one extra item to your weekly shop or a buy-one-get-one-free and give it to somebody in need, to count your blessings, appreciate your loved ones and share a smile and kind gesture on a cold winters day. Together we can make such a difference to so many, I shall continue to strive for my £10,000 target and am currently taking donations at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/teamkiss
UPDATE: Meeting RT Hon David Lidington MP Aylesbury Consituency
Meeting Mr Lidington was a wonderful experience and he was able to recommend several church groups, shelters and stations that would benefit from a food donation. Not only did he recommend toys for children but also toiletries for the elderly and basic items for living that we perhaps overlook.
I am now between Aldi and Mr Lidington to arrange delivery and contents for each cause and will be sharing a video with you following the drop off of the donations which I am very much looking forward to. This is a time of year when we can all give a little to help others, perhaps a warm drink, unused blankets or charitable donation to a collection pot with your spare change from your own shopping. I’d like to think that when I am elderly the world will be just as kind to have the compassion to support those in need. If you have any suggestions, comments or thoughts on this please feel free to list them in the box below. I will try my best to do all that I can to make a kind and positive difference to the world.
UPDATE: 18/11/15 Charity List Received
Today I received a list of local charities from Mr Lidington’s office via email that may benefit from my donations. I am now telephoning each establishment to discover what items they would require and in what volume. At the moment I’m thinking that it may be best to create ten individual £100 hampers to total the £1,000.00 amount. Once I have gathered the information I will then relay it back to Aldi who can select the specific products. Should you kindly wish to help the charities yourselves their details are as follows:
Aylesbury (Central) Distribution Centre – Trussell Trust Food Bank
3 Evett Clos, Aylesbury HP20 1DW
Telephone Number: 07582 171906
Aylesbury (North) Distribution Centre– Trussell Trust Food Bank
The Redeemed Christian Church of God
Calvary Parish, Community Suite, Church of England Primary School HP18 0WS
Telephone Number: 07582 171906
Wendover Distribution Centre – Trussell Trust Food Bank
Wendover Christian Centre, Aylesbury Road, Wendover HP22 6JG
Telephone Number: 07582 171906
Aylesbury Town Foodbank – The Vineyard Church
Vineyard Centre, Gatehouse Close, Aylesbury HP19 8DN
Telephone Number: 01296 424400
St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Square, Aylesbury HP20 2JJ
Telephone Number: 01296 437641
Church of the Good Shepherd
Churchill Avenue, Southcourt, Aylesbury HP21 8NH
Telephone Number: 01296 398557
Southcourt Baptist Church
40 Penn Road, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP21 8HW
Telephone Number: 01296 480080
St Peter, Quarrendon
Coventon Road, Quarrendon, Aylesbury HP19 3NE
Telephone Number: 01296 432677
Florence Nightingale Hospice
Unit 2 Walton Lodge, Walton Street, Aylesbury HP21 7QY
Telephone Number: 01296 429975
Aylesbury Youth Action
Queens Park Art Centre, Aylesbury HP21 7RT
Telephone Number: 01296 421149
Youth Concern (Aylesbury)
The Uptown Coffee Bar, Whitehill Lane, Aylesbury HP19 8FL
Telephone Number: 01296 431183
Age UK, Bucks
145 Meadowcroft, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP19 9HH
Telephone Number: 01296 431911
Ardenham Court, Oxford Road, Aylesbury HP19 8HT
Telephone Number: 0300 777 2722
St Mary’s, Wendover
Church Lane, Wendover HP22 6NL
Telephone Number: 01296 623123
The Healthy Living Centre
Walton Court Shopping Centre, Hannon Road, Aylesbury HP21 8TJ
Telephone Number: 01296 334562
Griffin Lane, Aylesbury, HP19 8FE
– houses homeless individuals and families in Aylesbury
Telephone Number: 01296 337858
Aylesbury Homeless Action Group
– has a provision for temporarily housing homeless people at a shelter
Telephone Number: 01296 435026
– Provides emergency aid and accommodation to young people faced with homelessness
Telephone Number: 01296 431183
UPDATE: 08/11/15 Delivering My Food Parcels
After weeks of emailing and phoning around the charities to see which would benefit most from a food donation, what type of items they require, a date and time for delivery and liaising with the Aldi supermarket press to have it picked, packed and shipped off it actually worked out a million times easier for me to just purchase and deliver the food directly myself from local stores as all of the charities are within a half hour drive from my home anyway and I didn’t want them to miss out on having their Christmas lunches and events. So just like dear old Father Christmas and his elves, my 3yr old son Gabriele and I donned our winter jackets and headed out onto the road on a whistle-stop tour of the town filling my little hatchback to the brim with bags and boxes of food to take to the charities because apparently Rudolph and his traffic-skimming sleigh were otherwise engaged.
First I nipped into Budgens in Wendover to purchase some goodies for Age Concern Northall & District who had requested a Christmas lunch to feed 40 people and had very efficiently provided me with a list of items ranging from frozen turkeys to tubs of ice cream, Christmas crackers, gravy granules and peas. Whizzling around with my trolley bulging with food I saw a few raised eyebrows from the other shoppers who were no doubt wondering how on earth I would eat four turkeys and a lifetimes supply of tart on my own! The checkout assistant very kindly helped me to pack so that I could drive to Dunstable in time to drop it off. I met up with Peter Williams who is the chairman of the charity and was very thankful for the donation. Age Concern supports the elderly with social isolation, anxiety, frailty and loss of independence as well as contributing to funding research into dementia, falls prevention, strokes and incontinence. He has promised he will take a photo of them all having their Christmas lunch which has cost £126.12 and leaves £873.88 still in my £1,000.00 fundraising pot for the other charities.
Next we visited the Florence Nightingale Hospice who had requested nibbles, drinks and snacks for their day patients and families. The Day Hospice provides a sociable dining area, creative/diversional therapies, one to one psychological and spiritual support, complimentary therapies and group support for patients with terminal illness. I have never met such a bright, positive and selfless group of staff as those at Florence Nightingale who make such a difficult time for the elderly and their families so much more bearable. Whenever I have visited I see nothing but smiles, people doing puzzles, art, crafts and reminiscing with friends and it’s such a warm and welcoming environment which has captured my heart. We packed a trolley with cheese, biscuits, cakes, teas and a few cheeky bottles of gin, whiskey, wine and liqueur at Aldi on Cambridge Street, Aylesbury to provide the patients and family with plenty of cups of afternoon tea and every biscuit every invented and the odd cheeky tipple which came to £157.35 leaving £716.53 still in the pot.
We then visited Aldi on Rimmington Way which is their brand new store where we purchased items for Griffin Place who are a 24hr service providing accommodation for homeless individuals and families. They had asked me for food with a long lasting sell by date for those who arrive with nothing and don’t know how long they will be staying. Being a single parent to my two children Millisent 8yrs and Gabriele 3yrs I know how stressful it can be to make ends meet but thankfully we have always had a roof over our heads and a warm bed to sleep in. I can’t even begin to imagine how scared and alone these individuals and families must feel at such an uncertain time in their lives but I hope that a warm meal will bring them the strength and courage they need to carry on and get back on their feet. With the help of my little elf Gabriele choosing lots of his favourite cereals, snack bars, tinned ravioli, hotdogs, soups, baked beans, spreads, teabags, pasta, rice and wetwipes we then headed over to the 105 unit accommodation centre to drop it off. This trolley came to £103.95 leaving £612.58 still in the pot.
Finally we nipped back to Aldi on Rimmington Way to fill another trolley to the brim with treats for Youth Concern Aylesbury who provide amenities for homeless young people who have nowhere to go and nobody else to turn to. Offering guidance, support, counselling and a safe and friendly environment for youths, the drop-in centre is a bright and energetic relief from the stresses of the outside world and their Nightstop service provides emergency accommodation for up to seven days with a host family. No child should ever be out on the street without friends or family to turn to and it makes my blood run cold to think of them alone in the world because as a mother regardless of how old my children are they will always be my babies and I will forever worry about their health and wellbeing. The charity had requested Christmas treats, chocolates, mince pies, sweets and toiletries for which my son was astoundingly good at helping me to fill the trolley with huge boxes of chocolates, bags of jelly babies, Haribo, selection boxes, goodie bags and perfume. This was the most expensive trolley of the day as it was by far the most luxurious, but in my eyes these children needed it the most. These are merely treats that we don’t think twice about when dropping into our baskets, but to others they mean the absolute world. A young girl at the centre asked if she could have a bottle of perfume and I welcomed her to choose whichever she liked, to see the sheer excitement and disbelief on her face touched me so deeply. This donation cost £276.40 which is absolutely priceless in my eyes to make a child feel a sense of normality and it leaves £336.18 still in the pot.
With my snoring son in the back of the car and blisters on my hands from lugging plastic bags and boxes too and fro to charities all afternoon I arrived back home just as the sun was setting so that I could collect my daughter from her dance class and cook the children’s dinner. Unlocking my front door I was greeted by my cat and dog with happy faces and wagging tails, a twinkling Christmas tree adorned with presents, a fridge filled with fresh vegetables and a cosy home courtesy of the central heating being on a timer. Today has made me feel so incredibly fortunate for everything we have as a young family and I hope that you too will spare a thought, pocket of change or kind donation to those less fortunate this holiday season; we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Kisses.
UPDATE: 14/12/15 More Deliveries
Today Gabriele and I filled our trolley at Aldi once more to take a huge bundle of tinned fish and meats, biscuits, rice, pasta, soup, laundry powder, wetwipes, hand cream and items with a long expiry date to Saint Mary’s Church in Aylesbury for their Christmas hampers for the homeless. They explained that many of the homeless individuals and families sleep in tents and have very little way of storage for food and belongings so tinned goods that can be cooked on a portable stove and boiled are best. I also found some lovely thick sports socks too and cocoa butter moisturiser for chapped hands.
This huge amount of food and clothing came to just £181.66 and stacked the trolley to bursting point; it just goes to show that savvy shopping can stretch a budget so far and that’s why I’ve shopped at Aldi for the past five years since I first discovered them. After todays donation this incredibly still leaves £154.52 in the pot.
UPDATE: 15/12/15 Final Delivery!
Today I nipped back to Aldi to fill my trolley with treats for the Trussell Trust Food Bank situated in Wendover Christian Centre every Tuesday. The charity collects food for families and individuals in crisis in surrounding towns and villages providing each with three days worth of emergency food which they can receive once every three months. The charity asked for special treats for families to make a difference to the basic rations and staple food throughout the year so I packed a whole trolley with biscuits, chocolates, mince pies, Turkish delights, and cracker selections which came to £151.86 and completes my Christmas donations with the final couple of pennies left over going to the charity pot.
This fundraiser has been such a humbling and heart felt experience that I feel so incredibly honoured to have undertaken. Not only was it motivational in setting up a fundraising page and doing a crazy workout to push me to my physical limits, but it also taught me a lot about time. The people I have met and the places I have been have introduced me to such amazing new friends, it has made me assess my own life and realise how fortunate the children and I are to sleep in a warm bed with a roof over our heads and full tummies.
Many elderly people are alone at Christmas with no family or friends, some struggle for their lives whilst others can’t afford the cost of mounting heating bills. Hardworking men and women lose their homes after falling behind of rent and mortgages due to illness, unemployment or family crisis and families with young children live day to day desperate to make ends meet or find their next hot meal. It has been a privilege for me to do this to help others and I’ve fitted it in around a hectic life as a single parent already on a very tight schedule and juggling a million things at once. So if I can do it then so can you, and if you’re considering giving back this Christmas or all year round then please give fundraising a go. Without your kind love and support none of this would have been possible so I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please stay safe, stay blessed and help others along your way.
You can watch me making my donations here:
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Kiss Family x x x #Merrykissmas