Pete’s Dragons appeals for donations as charity strives to send record-number hamper gifts to suicide-bereaved families across Devon and Cornwall

PUBLISHED: 14:16 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:22 26 November 2018

The launch of Pete’s Dragons’ Operation Christmas Hamper at Tesco in Exmouth saw trolley-loads of goods and hundreds of pounds donated to the cause. Inset, volunteers and fundraisers Tilly Howe and Debbie Bales.

The launch of Pete’s Dragons’ Operation Christmas Hamper at Tesco in Exmouth saw trolley-loads of goods and hundreds of pounds donated to the cause. Inset, volunteers and fundraisers Tilly Howe and Debbie Bales.

Archant

Community kindness is being harnessed to help a charity bring Christmas comfort to scores of suicide bereaved families across Devon and Cornwall.

This year’s Operation Christmas Hamper will be the largest in the history of Pete’s Dragons.

The launch of the drive was met with a wave of generous support at Tesco in Exmouth when shoppers gifted trolley-loads of goods and hundreds of pounds.

Donations of gifts, food and festive items are being sought by the cause as it strives to support people struggling to deal with the loss of a loved-one to suicide and break through the stigma and isolation often felt.

The initiative sees bespoke, carefully-thought-out hampers sent as a surprise to families and individuals.

CEO Alison Jordan, who founded the charity after her brother, Pete Wicks, took his own life at the age of 24, said: “This year will be our biggest yet, with about 55 hampers going out across Devon and Cornwall.

“They are sent for different reasons; for some people it is to let them know we are there and we care. For others, it can alleviate the financial hardship of Christmas.

“We also want people to know it’s OK to celebrate Christmas – a lot of families feel uncomfortable with that, as suicide causes you some really complicated feelings and so many people feel they are not worth it.

“The recipients don’t know the hampers are coming and the phone calls and messages we receive when they start to arrive are often of real happiness and tears – happy tears.

“Suicide can be so isolating. It feels really special that all the people who donate to the hampers, to help others in their community, are sending such a strong message that they are not alone.”

Hundreds of families who have lost a loved-one to suicide have received hampers in recent years - with grateful beneficiaries saying they were ‘utterly speechless’ and ‘overwhelmed’ by the gesture.

One mum told the Exmouth-based charity: “Thanks so much for putting a smiles on our faces.”

Donations being sought are:

Gifts: toiletries or smelly gift sets for males, females or children; make-up; perfume; fluffy/funny socks, hats, scarves, mittens for males, females or children; toys for all ages; games for the whole family; colouring books and pens, craft sets for all ages; jigsaw puzzles of all sizes and difficulties; pet toys for dogs and cats; handbags and tote bags.

Food: Christmas tree chocolates/ chocolate Santas and reindeers; Christmas puddings/ mince pies/ Christmas cake; pickles; jams; savoury sauces - jars or packets; tubs of sweets; savoury snacks - crisps, nuts, cheese straws/ crackers; tinned food, fun-size cereals; candy canes; wine/cider/bucks fizz; fizzy drinks/ fruit juice.

Christmas items: Crackers; tinsel; Christmas decorations or ornaments; Christmas tea towels or aprons.

If you would like to make a donation, contact Pete’s Dragons on 01395 277780, or email admin@petesdragons.org.uk

The deadline for hamper referrals is Friday, November 30.

To find out more about Pete’s Dragons, visit petesdragons.org.uk.

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