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Appeal for help for Christmas gift drive

Public appeal: Gina Spence, community activist (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The leader of a social services organisation has appealed for public help to raise $75,000 for her charity Christmas drive.

Gina Spence, the founder of Gina Spence Productions, sent letters to almost every resident to publicise her first Gift of Giving Christmas campaign.

The campaign, organised with the help of the Bermuda Post Office, hoped to raise enough money for their annual Christmas Community Outreach Campaign, which is expected to experience a surge of people left in need because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Spence said: “We hope that this would give people a clear understanding of the actual effect or impact of Covid-19 on people in general.”

She added: “What you’re seeing is a broader range of people needing help and support.

“We hope that, by letting them know how much we need to raise, where the money’s going, who is receiving it and how they’ll benefit from it, it would encourage people to give.”

The Christmas Community Outreach Campaign, now in its 30th year, was set up to donate hampers of Christmas food, toys and necessities to disadvantaged families across the island.

Ms Spence said that she anticipated a significant amount of demand this year after her back-to-school drive gave supplies to around 1,000 pupils and required a budget of $150,000.

That was more than five times last year’s $20,000 target, which had held the record for organisation’s highest fundraising target.

She said GSP had already had calls from people to ask for assistance – some of whom had “never, ever asked for support their entire lives”.

Ms Spence added: “We had managers, supervisors – not just our traditional clients that might be struggling financially or are on financial assistance.”

Ms Spence said that the letters she sent reminded the public about the Christmas campaign and other programmes that offered assistance and accept donations year round, such as the Champions’ Programme, set up to offer counselling to people who had who lost loved ones to gun crime or other violence.

She said that she hoped to be able to buy pharmacy gift cards for 100 seniors, toys for 300 children and healthy food hampers for 100 families.

Ms Spence added she wanted to concentrate on the provision of healthy meals for families to have after Christmas.

She said: “There are so many wonderful charities that offer turkey, ham, stuffing – the standard Christmas meal – but after Christmas people need eggs and bread and milk and regular food.”

Donations for the Gift of Giving campaign will be accepted until next Sunday – December 13.

Supplies from the campaign will be distributed on the same day at Warwick Academy auditorium.

Any cash left over will be put towards the Champions’ Programme.

Ms Spence said that staff and pupils from the school had volunteered to help direct traffic and distribute the hampers.

She added that, although she had not received many donations yet, people had expressed an interest in helping.

Ms Spence said: “The other day we got a call from a gentleman in Paget and he was just so happy about the fact that he was given the opportunity to support the charity and that he got to find out so much more about what we do all year round.

“He was very, very excited to help out.”

She added: “Let’s say there’s five people in a household – that means that everyone who is able to could give $5, or you could partner with your neighbour and say ’I’ll do $10 you do $5’.

“You can partner with your associates or your co-workers or anyone.

“It’s just an opportunity for the community to come together collectively.”

To donate should visit www.ginaspenceproductions.com

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Published December 04, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 06, 2020 at 4:44 pm)

Appeal for help for Christmas gift drive

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