Leigh Park community shows the true meaning of Christmas at Big Wrap event

DISADVANTAGED children in Havant will be waking up to a Christmas stocking full of presents this festive season thanks to the efforts of the local community.

Sunday, 23rd December 2018, 4:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:46 am
Francesca Westbrook with her daughter Ruby, 12, and grandson Stanley, six Picture: Ian Hargreaves (181223-1)

An estimated 300 volunteers packed into St Francis Church in Leigh Park today to take part in the annual Big Wrap event.

Co-ordinated by the PO9 Food Bank, adults and children parcelled and and wrapped presents to bring Christmas cheer to 50 local families who have fallen on hard times.

Organiser Darren McKenna said: '˜This is the third year we have run this event and it is the biggest yet. It is an initiative run by the community to support local people. The local school, medical surgery and social services have all been involved in identifying families in need of support.'

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Francesca Westbrook with her daughter Ruby, 12, and grandson Stanley, six Picture: Ian Hargreaves (181223-1)

Star of the day was eight-year-old Nancy Wright who made and sold craft items to raise £350 to buy presents for the Big Wrap. Kind-hearted Nancy also used her Facebook page to organise a reverse advent calendar which led to the donation of 600 food items to add to the presents.

'˜I have been raising money since the start of November. It will make me really happy to see other people smile when they get these presents,' said Nancy.

A number of people involved in the event have previously benefited from the work of the food bank or were due to receive some of the donated presents.

Lisa Horrell said: '˜I had my benefits stopped and I just didn't know how I was going to cope this Christmas. This will be a real help and means so much to me and my family. I wanted to get involved today so I could put something back and help other people in the community.'

Sam Clark, left, and David Warren Picture: Ian Hargreaves (181223-1)

Fellow volunteer Karen Richardson added: '˜I know Darren as he has helped me in the past with support from the food bank. When he told me about the Big Wrap I just wanted to help out as it is such a worthwhile project.'

Many parents also brought along their children to help wrap the presents and to show them the true meaning of Christmas.

Louise Fisher said: '˜I am lucky enough to be able to give my kids what they need. I know people who are really struggling and wouldn't be able to afford presents for their children at Christmas. I have brought along my daughter, Lulu, as I think it helps to teach children about the importance of giving at Christmas.'


Louise Fisher, left, and her daughter Lulu, five, and Karen Richardson and her daughter Sophie Pearson, seven Picture: Ian Hargreaves (181223-1)
Nancy Wright, 8, raised 350 to buy presents for the Big Wrap.