Students full of the festive giving spirit

Oxford Mail: Student Hub Homeless Action Group members Max Harris, left, Harry Coath, second left, and Amy Ertan, with Steppin’ Stone operations director Nigel Northcott, middle, and centre user Chris Smith  Picture: OX55927 Ed Nix Buy this photo Student Hub Homeless Action Group members Max Harris, left, Harry Coath, second left, and Amy Ertan, with Steppin’ Stone operations director Nigel Northcott, middle, and centre user Chris Smith Picture: OX55927 Ed Nix

STUDENTS have reached out to the community this Christmas to help homeless and elderly people.

Young people from Oxford University’s Jesus College and the Student Hub’s Homeless Action Group have both organised events to try to give something back.

Volunteers from the action group visited the Steppin’ Stone Centre, in St Mary’s Road, East Oxford, to donate gifts that will be given to homeless people during a dinner on Christmas Day.

And 39 older people were invited to a party at Jesus College held on Friday featuring a Christmas lunch, a raffle and a tour of the college.

Operations director at the Steppin’ Stone Centre, Nigel Northcott, said: “In October we had eight students come and do some painting and decorating one Sunday. They wanted to stay involved and said they would like to donate some presents.”

So on Thursday three students visited the centre and delivered a range of gifts which coordinator for the group, Amy Ertan, said would be given to around 25 homeless people.

“We just gave them some items we thought it would be nice to receive,” she said.

“It is always good to receive something at Christmas and a lot of the centre’s clients have lost touch with their families.

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“So we thought it would be nice to give them some element of normality. Something to make this Christmas a bit different.”

Among the gifts were tooth brushes, luxury soaps and toiletries, torches, hats and scarves.

Mr Northcott added: “To have students come and say ‘How can we get involved?’ is wonderful.

“It can be easy to see them as being elitist and not wanting anything to do with the community, but these are people who have every advantage and are choosing to help those who don’t.”

The Christmas party at Oxford University’s Jesus College was organised with Age UK after third-year geography student Cyrus Nayeri, 21, was awarded a £400 charitable grant from healthy snack delivery firm graze.com.

Mr Nayeri said: “Parties like this happen in secondary schools quite a lot, but not universities like Oxford.

“It was great to bring in some people who might not get out that much and give them a good time.

“I think they really enjoyed it.”

Party-goer Terry Knight, 60, from Wantage, said: “We’ve had a wonderful time. The students made us really welcome and we would love to come back next year.”

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