Image: One of our volunteers distributes food, while others locate the correctly labelled gifts with Christmas cards, Christmas crackers and other gifts.
Homeless and economically deprived people in Ilford received a Christmas boost on 16th December, when our official celebration of Christ’s birth took place.
Hot turkey meals, with roast potatoes were provided, and vegetarian meals were given to visitors with gravy and other sauces provided in small pots, so that meals could be individualized to meet specific desires.
The meals were given in boxes with encouraging Bible verses written on to each lid and each visitor received, drinks, some foodbank treats and extra meals for later from Greggs.
Generosity did not end there and to top things off, each visitor received an item of new clothing, in pre-purchased gifts that were festively wrapped and placed under a Christmas tree.
These gifts matched requests taken from each person in the run up for Christmas and included, shoes, jumpers, jackets, scarves and gloves and other clothing.
Every gift and all the food for our Christmas event was paid for by our volunteers who do the same every Christmas.
Video: Our event began with gathered visitors being led in prayer by 12 year old Willow Chowdhry.
Presents were labelled with a Bible verse and each person received a Christmas card.To bring some festive cheers to our regular visitors we played a some Christmas Carols and Christmas pop songs. Many of them danced to the music invigorated by the party atmosphere many have little memory of.
This was a day of revelry that most of our regular visitors await with great anticipation each year, and queues for our gifts and food began from 4pm for a 6pm start.
Video: Illustrates the sheer volume of food we distributed with over 50 hot meals and even more cold meals from Greggs and Marks and Spencers. You can see our volunteers busily working away to ensure every visitors was cared for. The woman in the video had not informed us of what gift she wanted but will be receiving size 9 shoes at our regular Meals for the Needy event on Christmas Eve.
Food and parcels for everyone our volunteers even made sure we had spare gifts for those who did not attend in the weeks before and name the clothing gift they wanted.
Food was prepared by our regular volunteers and Divine Retreat a Christian retreat centre. Some of these volunteers have been helping us for over 3 years and participated in 3 of these Christmas events.
A total of 12 Bibles were given out at the event the most of any of our events and 6 people received personal prayers.
Our work in Ilford is well known. We receive the largest number of visitors to any hot meals service in the Borough and have continued to serve 3 days a week, because demand is so high. We could not continue this work without our committed volunteers and partners and we ask that you pray for them and the service that we provide. This work is expensive and heling so many people comes with a significant cost. If you have been moved by what you have read and seen in this post, why not help us fulfil a 4th year? You can donate to this project through a range of payment options that can be found by clicking (here).
Willow Chowdhry (12 yrs) a regular volunteer, said:
“Christmas is the best time of year.
“Its a time when we receive gifts, but also a time for us to reflect on Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and gift of heaven.
“In so doing, we are reminded of our need to help others, as Jesus commanded.
“To be able to give presents to so many people that are normally forgotten, is heartwarming.
“We gave a sleeping bag to a man who has to sleep with no roof over his head.
“We gave warm clothes to people who could not afford to buy their own.
“We gave food to people who queue for hours to receive it, even in the bitter cold of winter.
“These are real victims of our harsh world and their grateful thanks ample reward.
“Best of all, to be able to pray with them and share the Gospel is a chance to fulfil our God’s desire.”
Many new visitors attended the event seeking help through an increasingly harsh economic climate.
Video: This regular visitor expressed just how happy he was.
Every visitors left with bags full of treats including food, drinks, a present, Christmas crackers and toiletries.
Video: Volunteers took their time to distribute food essentials, toiletries and gifts.
Video: Willow Chowdhry managed to video another satisfied visitor.