CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Tears of joy as our Christmas hampers are delivered

Generosity of CNJ readers makes it a Christmas to remember

20 December, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Ronald Davies said he was ‘well and truly happy’ after receiving a hamper

THE magic of Christmas? It was right here in Camden this week: tears of joy flowed as hampers paid for by New Journal readers were given to some of the borough’s most deserving – and unsuspecting – residents.

After weeks of collecting money through our annual appeal, we began distributing goodies and found once again that this is a community, and that even in times of hardship and uncertainty, the people of Camden care for their neighbours.

Your astounding generosity has made it possible to deliver hundreds of hampers. We have visited community centres and lunch clubs, as well as making individual drops at people’s homes. The idea has been to try and reach people who do not have lots of money to spend at this expensive time of year, and to show people on their own – such as some of our elderly residents – that they are not forgotten.

So off we sent our Santa – who bore an uncanny resemblance to New Journal reporter Samantha Booth – to help with the deliveries.

Margaret Goodall receives a hamper

Margaret Goodall, 70, of Lorraine Court, Clarence Way, was nominated for a New Journal Christmas hamper by her son, Warwick Goodall, 38.

Mr Goodall said: “She’s done so much and is always thinking about other people. She was a carer for my nan and, after my nan died in 2007, my mum tried to overdose. Since then I’ve given up work to care for her. I think she deserved something to show we care.” It was just one moment of magic on our hamper rounds, but an example of why the generosity of readers can mean so much. There were more smiles and tears as residents told us how much it meant to know that, despite the hard times many live through, people still care.

Sheila Chaudhury, 66, who also received a hamper, said: “I have been in and out of hospital with problems with my bones. My husband’s brother died of cancer so he has gone to India to be with his family and I am worried he won’t be home for Christmas.” She added: “I lost my mum, my dad and my sister to cancer, so I don’t have much family left. It makes you feel alone. I try my best but it’s really hard.”

Ms Chaudhury, with tears in her eyes, told the New Journal: “It’s really nice. I am in shock. Thank you so much. It’s nice to know that somebody cares.”

Sheila Chaudhury gets a visit from Santa

It would not have been possible to deliver Christmas joy to those in need without the help of our readers.

Understandably, a lot of those who received hampers did not want to feature in the newspaper – if you are living on the breadline or have been through hardship, the last place you may want to appear is telling the world about it in the New Journal – but everybody who received a hamper asked us to pass on their gratitude. Read more about our hamper deliveries and the stops we’ve made thanks to your help in next week’s New Journal. And when we come back in the New Year we will give a special thank-you to all those who donated.

Special invite for elderly residents

ELDERLY residents of Gospel Oak enjoyed a Christmas lunch together – and the New Journal was on hand with some of our special hampers to add to the party. The event at the tenants and residents association hall in Weedington Road helped make sure nobody felt stuck at home while the rest of the world was celebrating. Pat Brooks, 78, who lost her husband four years ago, said she was glad of the invite.

She added: “My friends said I should get a dog when he died, they said it keeps you company. But he’s not good company at all – he just sleeps all day!” The party was organised by Gospel Oak community liaison advisors Sarah Robbins and Suzanna Hoffer, and funded by GEM Environmental Building Services. After dinner was served, raffle prizes were given out from some of the New Journal Christmas hampers. Carol Francis, 75, said: “It’s nice chatting to people and having a good time.”

Councillor Pat Callaghan, the Town Hall’s social services chief, said: “It’s a lovely community and a longstanding tradition in this community. It’s a way of renewing friendships.”

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