"We are passionate to ensure that the recipients of these shoe boxes feel remembered, valued and loved this Christmas."
Emma Manchester, Streetwise Trustee
Streetwise, a Leeds-based charity founded in March 2010, is appealing for donations so that they can provide hundreds of shoeboxes full of day-to-day supplies, to give to hundreds of homeless people, vulnerable families and those in need across the city this Christmas.
For over 10 years, Streetwise has runs a weekly drop-in for the homeless and those living in poverty - providing a loving environment, food and clothing to some of the most vulnerable adults in Leeds. On average (pre-lockdown) the charity had 40-60 guests weekly. Understandably, things have had to change this year, however, Streetwise has been able to continue to run its weekly outreach, supporting 30-40 guests each week. Despite not being able to provide the usual two-course hot meal, Streetwise has still been able to serve hot drinks, offer a socially distanced listening ear and food parcels every Thursday since March 2020.
Emma Manchester, Trustee of Streetwise Leeds Charity, said; “This year has been a year like no other. We are grateful that, albeit different, we have still been able to carry on providing food, clothes and love weekly thanks to our incredible group of volunteers. Christmas is always a big time of year for us as a charity; we usually host a huge party, with an amazing Christmas dinner, live entertainment, dancing, presents and lots of love and laughter. Understandably, this won’t be able to happen this year, however, we are still launching our Christmas Shoebox Appeal.”
The Streetwise annual Christmas Shoebox Appeal is still going ahead and with the difficulties that 2020 has brought for many, the charity is on a mission to ensure that this years’ appeal is the biggest and best yet. Emma said; “We understand that this year has been a really difficult time for many and want to do what we can to help those most in need. We are passionate to ensure that the recipients of these boxes feel remembered, valued and loved.
“Last year, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our city as we were able to donate over 400 shoeboxes containing essential cold-weather, food and hygiene items. With such generosity, we were able to pass on boxes to other small charities that also work tirelessly with some of the most vulnerable people in our city. These included: The Joanna Project, Community Kitchen, Hughies Kitchen, PAFRAS and Lighthouse – to name a few…”
Streetwise is asking people to put together a shoebox or shoeboxes between now and up to the 13th December, however, the charity says the earlier the better to allow them time to sort boxes and distribute to other charities around our city to pass onto their guests. Streetwise will distribute shoeboxes to their guests on 17th December and also at the drop-in on Christmas Eve.
How can you get involved?
Please wrap the boxes and lid separately in seasonal paper (this needs to be separate so that it can be opened and checked by the team, for safety purposes and to check they are equitable). Please then fill to the brim with essential items (ideally unisex or male items). If you’re unable to donate a full box, you can donate individual items too!
- Essential items; hat, scarf, gloves, socks, shower gel/soap, deodorant, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, toothpaste, non-perishable food, sweets, chocolates…
- Optional items; notepad, pen, comb, lip balm, hand cream, wipes, heat pads…
You can then drop off at LIFE Church on Kirkstall Road, Thursdays 6-8pm or at one of the drop off points across the region in LS16, LS22, LS28, LS11, LS6 and WF4… please get in touch via Facebook for more details https://www.facebook.com/Streetwise-Leeds-Homeless-Christmas-Shoebox-Appeal-113748583343504. The charity can also arrange collection if you are struggling to drop off your boxes/items. Thankfully, during lockdown – volunteering is still permitted
This year, alongside the shoeboxes, the charity’s aim is to provide additional cold-weather items such as; thermals, joggers and jumpers, as many organisations have had to move their services outdoors to comply with Covid restrictions - therefore, guests are unable to warm up indoors as they usually would.
If you can’t put together a shoebox or if you’re self-isolating, you can also donate online via the charity’s Local Giving page. https://localgiving.org/charity/streetwiseloveleeds/
Emma said; “I love what Streetwise does week in, week out for the needy in our city. When it comes to Christmas, we just love to ramp it all up a notch or two. We love to shower our guests with food, gifts and friendship at Christmas to remind them how much they are loved and valued. But if I’m honest, at the end of it, every year, I feel that I am the one coming away with something. To give to those who need it the most just does something for your soul! The generosity of our city who entrust us with their gifts to pass on to our guests is at times overwhelming. We do not take the responsibility lightly and we make sure that each and every item gets into the hands of those who need it the most. We have seen the power of ‘community’ in recent months and this is just another fabulous example.”