Comfort and Joy: Record-breaking £16,000 is collected for 10 Portsmouth charities through Christmas campaign
KINDNESS and compassion shone through the city as community donations reached a record £16,000 for those in need.
Vouchers flooded in to the Comfort and Joy campaign, run by St Mary’s Church in partnership with The News, Hive Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council.
Despite adversity and hardship, more money than ever before was donated to the campaign which will be shared between 10 charities supporting those on the margins of society.
The causes getting a festive boost are the Roberts Centre, Two Saints, Society of St James, St Simon’s Church, Portsmouth Churches Housing Association, Stop Domestic Abuse, The LifeHouse, Catherine Booth House, Friends without Borders, and Hope into Action.
Canon Bob White, vicar of St Mary’s Church, said: ‘As we take another twist on our journey through 2020 and enter tier four it is reassuring to know that we do so as a community that seeks to offer comfort and bring some joy to all who are part of our city.
‘The response to the campaign supported by The News, the HIVE and the city council has been truly overwhelming.
‘At a time when we have not been able to gather and collect vouchers at services and events we expected the final amount raised this year to be less than in past years.
‘However, the generosity and care of so many has meant that we have surpassed any previous amount raised with more than £16,000.’
This year’s campaign built on previous efforts by encouraging people to reach out to those who might be lonely, writing letters and cards, as well as collecting food donations for charities and food banks.
Father Bob added: ‘Thank you to all who have generously donated, to those schools who wrote cards and letters to surrounding older people, to the Queens Hotel for its offer of accommodation and food, to Hovertravel for its collections, to the St Mary’s Hospital League of Friends and BAE systems for their substantial donations.
‘But thank you also to the many anonymous people who posted cheques to the vicarage – and to the churches and other community groups who gathered donations together and shared them.
‘Even in these challenging times we have been able to celebrate the heart of the Christmas story – the sharing of the gifts of peace and love that the child born in Bethlehem brings, and the recognition of our shared humanity.
‘I hope as we move into 2021 we will continue to seek to find ways of sharing comfort and joy with those around us.’
Gift vouchers and food donations were handed out to charity representatives at St Mary’s last week, and a service was held to discuss the meaning of Christmas.
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Rob Wood said: ‘When I started this year it was nothing like I imagined it was going to be.
‘One thing I have discovered and I’m really grateful for is that we can all work together and that’s something that is really important.’
Steve Pitt, Portsmouth City Council cabinet member for culture, leisure and economic development, added: ‘It’s going to be a mammoth task for us over the next few years to make sure that we as a city council and you as a community are working together to help those vulnerable people who are going to need our support.’