CHRISTMAS for many homeless people can be a miserable time of year with the weather worsening and temperatures tumbling.
But over the weekend hundreds of Portsmouth residents rallied to do what they could to give those living on the streets a Christmas present to remember.
People of all ages donated rucksacks full of warm clothes, sleeping bags, tins of food and toiletries as part of the Rucksack Project.
A record number of rucksacks were delivered to the scheme’s donation station at the Portsmouth Watersports Centre – some 3,000 in total.
Sammy Barcroft was one of those who organised the day.
She was stunned by the turnout and said: ‘It shows that people do still care.’
‘You’ll walk past a homeless person every day of the year but actually this is a really good time to connect with people and just show that there are still people out there that care for them.
‘Days like today are really important – gifts like these can mean so much for a homeless person.’
There were dozens of volunteers helping out.
Among those was Sammy’s nine-year-old nephew, William Yates. William was on hand throughout the day packing rucksacks. His Cub Scout group helped to raise more than £800 for the charity during a sleepout.
He said his sleepout had given him a new-found sympathy for homeless people.
‘We slept in boxes for the night and it was really cold and damp.
‘It was quite hard,’ he added.
All the donated items will go to about a dozen charities which help people living on the streets across the city.
One of those was Alabare, which runs a number of shelters in Fareham and Gosport.
Rebecca Mullen, fundraising manager for the cause, said: ‘People living on the street can often feel invisible so this is just a fantastic way of recognising that we all, by the grace of God, could be on the street.’
Those wishing to make more donations can do so by visiting Central Point, in Kingston Road, Buckland.