Overwhelmed by Christmas Generosity
This year’s ‘Christmas Dinner on Jesus’ project was our biggest and most complicated yet. We knew that Covid19 would impact on how our project would look in many ways. But we also knew that it was more important than ever to ensure it went ahead. We didn’t know how many people would be nominated by our partner agencies. So we couldn’t be sure how much food we needed to ask to be donated. We didn’t know how folk would be able to collect and donate items because many groups had stopped meeting. We didn’t know how many people would donate money to cover the extra costs as so many have been impacted financially by the pandemic. We didn’t know how many would be interested in volunteering and how we would be able to pack all the hampers and distribute them in a Covid-secure way.
There were so many questions BUT…we were overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people who rose to the challenge and found ways to ensure the project went ahead regardless. Almost everyone who collected items reported that they exceeded their targets and they all reported how astounded they were with the generosity they saw through their schools, churches and businesses. It was truly amazing to see how everyone got involved. We were also blown away by the outpouring of monetary donations that came in – covering all of our costs. Our concern over the barriers we thought might hold people back from getting involved soon evaporated. More than ever before, we saw people wanting to get involved and contribute in some way.
Amongst all of this there were also questions surrounding the Bolton Lion’s Toy Appeal. In previous years this had become a much valued addition to the food hampers for struggling families. However, with the restrictions in place this year, enabling this to go ahead was a real challenge. Once again, the difficulties we faced were resolved. It was a privilege to support the Lions by providing warehouse space for toy donations and to once again, witness how generous the people of Bolton are. It was a wonderful time where we got to meet new volunteers and be a part of another blessing for so many families.
After the toys were sorted, packed and distributed, the food was organised for hamper packing. So with a lot of excitement and hard work 1,181 family hampers and 384 individual hampers were packed over 4 days ready for distribution day on the 23rd December. At 6am on distribution day we organised the early morning volunteers who carefully packed the chicken bags and set up ready for the day. The usual buzz of excitement filled the whole of Trinity Retail Park and the hampers were distributed from buildings at either end of the park. With Bolton FM in the car park providing some feel-good music, the Christmas spirit was truly amongst us.
It was a remarkable time – from the first item pledged for collection, to the last hamper going out. ‘Christmas Dinner on Jesus’ remains a town-wide effort and it was humbling to witness so many standing together in order that thousands would be able to truly enjoy Christmas. A huge ‘thank you’ goes out to everyone who was involved in some way. We hope you enjoyed being a part of such a huge blessing to so many people across Bolton.