12:00pm Tuesday 24th December 2013
By Debbie Waite
VOLUNTEERS of all ages gathered at Oxford’s Gatehouse charity for the annual wrapping of Christmas gifts for the homeless.
The Gatehouse, situated at St Giles Parish Rooms in Woodstock Road, has been providing food, shelter and company for homeless people for 25 years, and every Christmas hands out a gift to all its guests.
Director Andrew Smith said: “The wrapping of the presents by volunteers has become somewhat of a Gatehouse tradition on the last Wednesday before Christmas.
“We have wrapped up around 100 parcels, which for many of our guests at Christmas will be the only present they receive. We are always taken aback by how many people phone to say they are coming along to help with the wrapping, or just turn up to lend a hand on the day.
“And, of course, all these gifts are only possible because of the generosity of people who have donated them directly to us or through the city’s churches. We would like to say how thankful we are to everyone for their kindness.”
The parcels contain new socks, underwear, a scarf, gloves and chocolate, which have all been donated to the Gatehouse by the public.
Giving a hand with the wrapping were Jennifer Cottrill and her five-year-old daughter Nya Humid.
Ms Cottrill said: “I looked for something for Nya and I to do together which would send her a different message about Christmas and the wrapping was perfect.
“Nya loves cutting and sticking and had a great time while also learning about helping other people. We will definitely do it again next year.”
Also lending a hand was Ali Watt, 17, from Perth in Australia, who is staying with her friend Simran Kamal, also 17, in Headington for Christmas.
Miss Watt said: “I came along with Simran because she does this with her family every year and I really enjoyed it.
“It’s sad to think of so many people having nothing at Christmas. It was nice to be able to do something to help.”
The Gatehouse will be open to guests throughout Christmas, apart from Christmas Day when the Salvation Army will be laying on a Christmas lunch and party at The King’s Centre in Osney Mead. Volunteers able to help at the party should contact: 07852 576368.
Meanwhile, artists from around the world have donated portraits of the Queen which were auctioned off for the Gatehouse. The portraits were part of a silent auction.
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