Generous residents, families and community supporters have been praised for collecting hundreds of chocolate gifts to brighten up Christmas for less fortunate children.
Voluntary group Chocolate Elf Hampshire spoke of their ‘enormous gratitude’ to the residents, families, team members and other well-wishers at seven Colten Care homes who supported an appeal.
More than 300 selection boxes and advent calendars have been gathered at the homes’ collection points this year, triple the number in 2022.
Chocolate Elf has now taken the gifts for distribution to children across south Hampshire via partners such as the city council children services’ teams in Southampton and Portsmouth, respite homes, refuges, faith groups and the young carers’ charity, Honeypot.
Belmore Lodge residents Brenda Close, left, and Linda Fudge, with some of the gifts gathered from our New Forest homes for Chocolate Elf Hampshire.
Our New Forest homes Belmore Lodge, Court Lodge, Linden House, Woodpeckers and Kingfishers all acted as collection points this year along with Winchester homes Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View.
As he visited Belmore Lodge in Lymington to pick up the New Forest gifts, Chocolate Elf representative Peter Orme said: “Every single donation will transform a child’s day. It’s a humbling experience to see the amount of gifts these amazing care home residents, staff and contacts have amassed. Along with my fellow volunteers, I can only offer the most enormous gratitude.”
Peter added: “To have increased the number of gifts by so many this year is truly outstanding, even more so when you think of the tough times people are seeing right now with the cost of living. I’m glad I brought the bigger car to collect everything!”
Belmore Lodge residents Brenda Close and Linda Fudge spoke of their reasons for wanting to help.
Brenda said: “I used to work in a women’s refuge as a volunteer and met lots of children who had nothing. Some of the children we’re helping today won’t have any other present this Christmas. This will be their only gift. It’s lovely to do something but help is always needed.”
At Belmore Lodge home in Lymington with New Forest chocolate donations are, from left: Customer Advisors Lynne Thorp, Deborah Davies, Tracy McCallum and Tracy Baker; and Chocolate Elf representative Peter Orme.
Brenda’s thoughts were echoed by Linda who said: “This is a marvellous initiative for Christmas. There are so many children in need and, after all, they didn’t ask to be put in that position.”
The donations will go towards a grand total of more than 5,000 gifts that Chocolate Elf expect to distribute this year.
The gathering of selection boxes and calendars was co-ordinated by the homes’ team of Customer Support Advisors.
Working closely with Home Managers, the advisors act as the first point of contact for prospective residents and relatives, supporting, informing and advising them on all aspects of the journey into care.
Tracy Baker, Customer Support Advisor for Belmore Lodge and Court Lodge, said: “Our residents and their families, and our colleagues and friends in the community, understand the fantastic work that Chocolate Elf does for children in Hampshire and we always want to do our bit to help.
“After we reached out on social media, one lady we know in Brockenhurst dropped off more than 30 calendars from herself and neighbours while another handed in 20.
“Supporting such a worthwhile cause is a further way our residents maintain their community connections.”