Preston volunteers prepare over 1200 'bags of kindness' for those in need this Christmas
Preston Minster and St George the Martyr joined efforts to organise the charitable movement.
Organized by sister churches, Preston Minster and St George the Martyr, the day was part of the ‘Love Christmas’ national movement, which invites people from across the country to give, pack and deliver one million ‘bags of kindness’ to people who could benefit from this kind gesture during the festive season.
The churches worked with Preston City Council to draw up a list of providers who could send the gifts out to people they know would benefit from the scheme, and these providers include Community Gateway, Here for Humanity, Love Preston, Salvation Army, Disability Equality North West, and Foxton Centre.
Father David from St George the Martyr said: "We had over eighty people, from across the age ranges, come along to the church to pack bags of kindness, which would then flood the city of Preston with the love of God at Christmas, as we're conscious that for so many people, it's been a tough year in one way or another.
"In each bag there'll be typical stuff like mince pies, chocolate, biscuits, a nice drink, but also toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, those sorts of things, and for some people, this might be the only gift that they receive at Christmas so we included a handwritten Christmas card, saying Merry Christmas from the Love Preston Love Christmas team, and we put a flyer in there for both Minster and St. George's about all the events that are coming up over Christmas, and hopefully these bags will wend their merry way to various people, and bring some happiness and some joy at what can be a difficult time for many."
On the day there was live music and congregations from both churches, as well as community groups and local councilors attended, with 1200 bags being made between 10 am and 3 pm.
These bags have already started being distributed amongst the local providers, although each church also has a supply of extra bags for emergency referrals that may come through at a later date.
The main coordinator for Love Christmas was Laura Fraser, who runs the unemployment programme at Preston Minster, as well as Sam Walmsley, the Parish Administrator & Director of Music at Preston Minster.
Laura said: "For us, it's just a real opportunity to share kindness with our neighbours, to build connections with partners, and to offer a small uplift of love and of hope to our local city. It's something small and simple, but it carries a lot of hope, and it's sharing the warmth of human connection with people at this time of year.
"It was a really good atmosphere, lots of fun, and everyone was just so excited to be involved in a really good partnership between both churches, but also, we had city councillors who came along to support as well, and so that was really great, it was a real community effort to give back to our community."
Love Christmas stems from a year round national project could Love Your Neighbour, which provided the funding for the Preston 'bags of kindness' scheme.
Love Your Neighbour is a national network of churches, charities and other organisations working across towns and cities, to see people helped, communities rebuilt and to inspire a fresh movement of practical love for our neighbour.