Canary Wharf staff provide Christmas bags of cheer

By Rob Virtue on December 13, 2013 8:06 AM |

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It's easy to forget about others outside of your circle of friends and family at Christmas.

But remembering others, just a little bit, can go a long way. Just ask the team of eight from Canary Wharf Group, who headed to Bethnal Green's Sundial Centre last week.

They gave out bags of presents to around 25 elderly and infirm people. And while the community at the lively centre is far from a place of loneliness, the delight the residents had from the visit was palpable.

Not least from an emotional Lillian Jenkins, who told the group: "I'm really so grateful. It brings a tear to my eye."

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The event was part of a Christmas Bag Appeal, organised by the East End Community Foundation, based next to Canary Wharf.

Under the guidance of organiser Jackie Thornton, the charity raised around £2,000 to see hundreds bags of food and presents delivered across Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney. Each bag was prepared by staff from Canary Wharf and City firms who then took them out to vulnerable residents.

The team from Canary Wharf Group undertook their run last Thursday. They packed the £15 bags and carried them by minibus to Bethnal Green where they surprised the day residents.

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It was a visit which meant the world to them.

Melanie Goldstein, of Canary Wharf Group, said: "We're honoured to be asked by EECF to help spread Christmas cheer among the elderly with the bag appeal.

"The response was amazing. They seemed thrilled to receive the bags which hopefully will brighten up their Christmas."

One of the recipients, Diane Ridewood, 77, from Bethnal Green, said: "It's so nice of them to come in. I'm on my own since my husband passed away. I have my son and he comes round to visit but I can get lonely - it's also nice to have some visitors here."

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Meanwhile, for Gerry Edgecombe, 79, from Bow, the presents also represented a few brownie points with his wife.

He said: "I'm pretty sure I shouldn't have stopped for lunch today as my wife's cooking me something and I'm likely to be in trouble.

"Luckily now I have this bag, I can explain to her how I had to go through a range of tasks and quizzes to win this bag of goodies and it might get me out of a spot of bother."

Stephanie Clarke, duty care manager at the centre, said it was the third year bags have been delivered to the venue.

"They look forward to this and are really grateful they are remembered at Christmas," she said.

"But the most important thing to them is the company and having people chat to them.

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"We have Christmas parties here and some people ring us to say 'please come and get us'. They can get very lonely this time of year."

The target this year is to buy 800 bags and the total is currently standing at around 630.

To help go to eastendcf.org.

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