Following a presentation to members at a recent lunch meeting, the club has launched the ‘Thousand Smiles Initiative’ to support the elderly citizens in Southampton. Working with Communicare in Southampton the project will allow us to support vulnerable seniors who are referred through social services and other similar bodies. Isolation and loneliness being the main things that we look to address. Throughout the year we will look to work with Communicare and reach as many as we can using tools such as gift bags through to coffee mornings, tea parties and lunches.
The first initiative has been the Christmas Gift Bags that have replaced the Christmas Hampers of last year. We produced over 220 Gift bags that were distributed to senior citizens through the Communicare team of helpers and befrienders as well as Rotarians themselves. A team of nine Rotarian Volunteers delivered 90 Hampers direct to individuals in need of help. We thank the team of willing Rotarians who helped with this distribution and with the picking and packing.
This was a worthwhile exercise and gave a great insight into the needs within our community. We hope to extend this with greater Rotarian involvement next year.
As part of the project, we were also able to supply a few gift bags to Graces Kitchen as well as St. James Society supporting the homeless. This has done much to let people know we care and brought a smile to the face of many!
We received a message via our website from one lady who said that she waited until Christmas Day to open the gift bag, as it was the only present she received. She also told us she had spent the past 25 years on her own at Christmas. Another lady thanked one of our collectors at our Tesco’s Christmas collection, saying how much she and her husband valued the fact that someone was thinking about them at Christmas. Such appreciation makes all that effort by all those involved so worthwhile.