Thank you to everyone who supported the Reading Family Aid stall at Earley Green Fair earlier this month. Despite the thunder and rain we had really good turn out and managed to make £853.34! Fantastic!
Huge thanks to David Jarvis - the Provincial Almoner from The Berkshire Freemasons - for attending our AGM last week.
The Berkshire Freemasons have been huge supporters of our Toy Project and it was really interesting to find out from David what Freemasonry was all about, and in particular the charitable work that they undertake.
The Freemasons goal is to relieve poverty and distress in the community, through cash donations for specific projects or to individuals. Money is raised solely from the donations of its members.
David surprised us all by presenting our Chair Wendy Howell with a cheque for £1,780 for our 2018 Camp Mohawk Outing!
Thank you to all the Berkshire Freemasons! This incredibly generous donation will make such a difference to so many local families living in poverty.
Next week sees the launch of the 2016 Reading Family Aid Toys & Teens Appeal. This annual appeal brings a little hope and happiness to local families living in desperate need, at a time of year when many feel lost and forgotten about.
The charity’s Toys & Teens Appeal collects and redistributes new or as new toys at Christmas to disadvantaged families who have been nominated by social workers and support organisations across the Reading area. All toys are generously donated by individuals, businesses, schools, churches etc. and dropped at local donation points; from Theale to Twyford and from Winnersh & Emmer Green to Shinfield.
The donation points will open on Thursday 20th October and remain open until Sunday 4th December, after which scores of volunteers will sort, pack & deliver over 10,000 donated items to their grateful recipients. None of this would be possible without the support of local volunteers and businesses such as Big Yellow who provide free storage facilities and Rabbits who provide vans to deliver all of the gifts.
In 2015, Reading Family Aid’s Toys & Teens Appeal delivered gifts to 1,500 disadvantaged children from over 600 families, and with the help of the local community it aims to extend its reach even further this year.
More information on how you can support Reading Family Aid’s Toys & Teens appeal, including where to donate, can be found on our website or follow us on twitter @RdgFamilyAid or Facebook.
If you would like to get involved with volunteering, please contact us at info@ReadingFamilyAid.org
Following some successful fundraising at the Winnersh Summer Fete in July (see our previous blog post), we would like to thank Winnersh Parish Council for their generous donation of £500. The cheque was presented to Wendy Howell, RFA Chair by John Southgate, Vice-Chair of the council.
August 6th, the day of Earley Green Fair unusually dawned with clear blue sky and sun forecast for the whole day. Hurrah!
We were unloading the cars by 8.15 and an hour later we were all set to go with a good selection of toys, children's and adult books, adult jigsaws, bric-a-brac, children's clothes and a fantastic Tombola.
Our supporter, Seve Mardell, set up his display of delicious jams, marmalade and chutneys.
Business started early with brisk trade particularly on the toys, jigsaws, jams and books. Many people had a go on the Tombola and went away with brilliant prizes, although not always with what they had their eye on - although that often brought them back for another try! The sun shone, it got warmer and warmer, and the ice cream van did brisk trade with us taking it turns to seek a rest in the shade.
A great day with over £800 being raised with the money going towards this year's Toys and Teens. Huge thanks to everyone that visited us!
We are thrilled to have been nominated for two Pride of Reading awards this year. Reading Family Aid has been nominated as 2016 Charity of the Year and Sallie and Ruth have been nominated as Community Champions.
Thank you to Heather Key for nominating us for these awards. Heather works at Interserve and has been volunteering for Reading Family Aid for several years.
Read more about the Pride of Reading award nominations.
June 2nd 2016 dawned with grey skies as we set of for the annual day trip to Camp Mohawk. We were expecting about 100 people to join us for a day in the country and there isn’t much indoor space on the site, so we were all keeping our fingers crossed that the skies would clear, and indeed they did!
On 24th April this year one of our committee members, Paul Cooper ran the London Marathon to raise money for Reading Family Aid.
Paul has been on the committee for about 18 months and helps maintain our website, manage our social media pages and support our publicity efforts. He's also a keen runner.
"I took up running about 6 or 7 years ago to get fit," explains Paul. "I found I really enjoyed it, and I started entering races to give myself a purpose and keep me motivated. In the last few years I have run a few half-marathons, but this was my first full marathon."
"It was really tough, but also an amazing experience. The support from the crowds is incredible, especially as I took everyone's advice and had my name printed on my shirt. Hearing hundreds of spectators calling out my name and cheering me on down the Embankment really carried me home over the last few miles."
So far Paul has raised a fantastic £2,412.97, but he's slightly short of his target and there is still time to sponsor him by visiting his fundraising page.
Paul says "I was overwhelmed by all the support I received. Thank you so much to everyone who donated! I know what a difference it will make to Reading Family Aid."
"I really enjoyed running the marathon - in fact I have entered the ballot for next year and if I'm lucky enough to get a place I will be trying to beat my fundraising total and my time!"
This year has been one of our most successful appeals ever. Thanks to everyone who donated and contributed their time! With your help we were able to deliver gifts to 1,500 children in the Reading area.
Here's a review of how everything came together during the week of collecting, sorting and distributing the toys.
It all starts on Sunday afternoon when we take over St Luke's church hall and set up all the tables. It's important everything is ready for when the toys start arriving on Monday morning.
On Monday morning the toys start arriving in the vans and the tables fill up quickly. That's not surprising given that we had 31 public donation points and 19 private collections this year, generating a record 13 van loads of donations!
Items are sorted as they arrive and are then taken to the designated tables so it's easier to select appropriate toys for each child later.
Lorraine is filling Christmas stockings that were made for the appeal by Sallie's quilting club.
This is one of our busiest days as donations continue to arrive at the hall and the tables are overflowing. It's time for our volunteers to collect a bag from the nerve centre in the office. Each bag is pre-labelled with some information about the child (or children) who will receive the gifts, and volunteers go round the tables choosing gifts that best match the information we have about each child.
One hundred and seventeen volunteers helped out in the hall this year, and filled 728 bags between them. Sarah Hacker, the Mayor of Reading, even paid us a visit and packed a bag of toys for a 5 year old girl.
Mark Hepplethwaite and his colleague from the Masons arrived this morning with a another large delivery of toys - where to put them all?! The record number of donations this year kept everyone busier than ever, but meant that we could be generous with the gifts.
As the week draws to a close we are focussed on finishing packing all the labelled bags and distributing them to the charities and social workers who will wrap and deliver them to the families in time for Christmas.
It's finally time to start packing up the hall, and the final bags are distributed in the vans. This year we had a team of 14 van drivers who drove a total of 600 miles to collect the donations and deliver the packed bags.
And so the appeal has finished for another year. We have received so many lovely messages from the organisations who received the gifts. Here are just a few of them:
“I would like to say a huge thank you to Reading Family Aid for all the wonderful gifts that were donated to our families, they have been gratefully received. It really is heartwarming to see how generous people have been.” – Community Nursing Secretary, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
"I just want to say a big thank you to you and the team for all the wonderful toys we received to bless our CAP families this Christmas. They have now all been wrapped and delivered and the excitement and appreciation that was evident when we delivered them was a delight to behold. We know there will be some very happy children on Christmas Day." – Liz, CAP UK
Thank you everyone! Your hard work and generosity have made a real difference to the lives of many children in Reading.
reading family aid committee
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