Rap Homeless Fundraiser Provides 360 Christmas Dinners

29th January 2020
Julie Anderson

Maidstone design and fit out company Rap Interiors was proud to lead the way in another ‘Help the Homeless at Christmas’ campaign for December 2019. Following a successful campaign in 2018, which saw 95 homeless people fed a Christmas dinner, the Rap team was determined to do even better in 2019.

Like 2018’s campaign, Rap encouraged local companies and residents to support the campaign and join in to donate money, food and essential items and presents. The donations were shared by four local charities: The Salvation ArmyMaidstone Day CentreHungry Hearts for the Homeless and Lily Smith House.

Through getting in touch with local contacts and spreading the word on social media, Rap managed to receive plenty of contributions. While some people donated money to the campaign’s Just Giving page, others dropped off food and gifts to the Rap Interiors Maidstone office.

With the help of the contributors, Rap was able to provide an incredible 360 Christmas dinners for homeless people in Maidstone. Additionally, each homeless person received a gift pack containing essential items and sweets. The incredible results have been met by some excellent feedback from the four associated charities, who were extremely thankful for the help.

Here is some of the feedback Rap received:

The Salvation Army

“Christmas Day 2019 was a great day spent with many of the street homeless and others living without a permanent home in Maidstone. Doors opened at 1pm and at 1.30; 45 people were served a full Christmas lunch with turkey and all the trimmings, followed by seconds and then Christmas pudding and cream or cheesecake, cheese and crackers, and lots and lots of chocolate! 

From start to finish the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. Many of those who came know each other from our weekly Wednesday and Friday drop- ins, but some came for the first time and soon found someone to talk to among the willing volunteers or others attending the dinner.  Guests were given a beautifully wrapped gift each and it was a privilege to share in the opening of gifts and the joy and laughter that took place. 

Many on the day spoke of how difficult Christmas can be when you are on your own, knowing that others are at home with their families or living with memories of Christmases past. For those estranged from loved ones and children, or who are grieving, this is an incredibly difficult time and the reason why at The Salvation Army we open our doors to those who need a place to go on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and all the Bank Holidays throughout the year. It’s also why we ensure that we have enough volunteers to sit and listen to those who just need someone to talk to on the day.

We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the companies, organisations and individuals that allow us to carry out this vital work. The provision of food for this day helped not only because of the cost, but also because Rap Interiors were able to bring us the food, help prepare the vegetables on Christmas Eve and set up the room ready for the guests the next day. This kind of support is invaluable and made the whole process enjoyable for all concerned. We are already planning for Christmas Day 2020 when we hope to serve more of those who would otherwise be on their own at Christmas.”

Marion Rouffet, The Salvation Army 

Maidstone Day Centre

“Any donation will enhance the lives of our clients at this time of the year.  Donations are helping our clients survive on the streets and improve their health by having nutritious meals as well as accept to the support to move off the street.

During the whole of December 2019 we were able to provide 268 meals for 52 homeless individuals.  Attendance at our Christmas lunch numbered 26. The mood on the day was very festive. Traditional Christmas lunch, crackers were pulled and gift-wrapped shoeboxes filled with donated goods were opened.

We and of course our clients are very grateful for all the donations however big or small – both at Christmas time and through the year. Once again, we would like to thank you for organising this campaign.”

Zofia Gryzmala, Maidstone Day Centre

Hungry Hearts for the Homeless

“The feedback from the homeless and vulnerable was amazing. They had such a good evening and are still talking about it now. I informed them all at the dinner who had provided for them and they all stood up and clapped and cheered and said thankyou to everyone. The feedback was that they felt they mattered.

We fed 33 homeless and vulnerable people that night. It was so lovely to have it in a cafe instead of on the streets. The mood was amazing. They were all so happy and I am sure they put their situation behind them for a couple of hours.

We as volunteers would like to thank you and all your sponsors. Your generosity makes our job all the more worthwhile. Thank you, you are amazing people.”

Lorraine Mason, Hungry Hearts for the Homeless

Lily Smith House

“Lily Smith Hostel is for vulnerable people, so people that don’t have anywhere to go. Rather than sitting on their own, the donations really helped to bring a lot of people together and give them something to do.

We had some people here on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and it was just fantastic. Those who didn’t have anywhere to go came down; everyone chipped in helping out and we had a great time; there was plenty of food; and it brought people together that don’t normally talk to each other.  About 16 people came in throughout the day.  

I just think what you guys are doing is fantastic and I know you don’t see the end result but I can honestly say that it’s amazing. It came from an off chance encounter with Julie and twice now you’ve helped us out by donating money. Last year we had Easter dinner and again we had about 12 people for that, so it’s brought a lot of happiness to us.

Again, thanks very much for what you guys do – it is absolutely amazing.”

Andrew, Lily Smith House

The Contributors

Rap’s social media coverage of the campaign generated plenty of interest, encouraging people from far and wide to get involved. The contributors included local companies, schools and generous friends, ensuring that the Rap office was extra busy around the seasonal period.

One notable contributor was Wateringbury School, which made the Help the Homeless campaign the focus of its Christingle event. Rap’s marketing executive Carolyne Colgate attended the event, which included a speech by the school governor on the importance of giving and details on where the donations would be going.

The school generated a generous amount of gifts, including chocolates, gloves, socks, rucksacks, thermal mugs, sleeping bags, tents, tights, scarves, and washbags with personal items. On the Christingle day itself, the students were also asked to bring in fresh produce such as potatoes, carrots and sprouts.

Another school that contributed was Holy Family Catholic Primary School from nearby Parkwood, Maidstone. The school’s representative, Melissa Barrington, dropped off boxes of food and expressed a keen interest in contributing next year, saying that the campaign is an excellent way to teach children good values in life like helping others. Rap will be encouraging more schools in Kent to join in for the 2020 campaign.

Other notable contributors included London workplace hygiene specialists Absolute Hygiene Solutions and Kent construction company Red Key Concepts. Absolute Hygience Solutions’ logistics man travelled all the way from Woolwich to deliver boxes of food and gifts, while Red Key Concepts Director Charley Gremo-Gilham dropped off two Santa sacks filled with 95 socks and 95 hats. Of course, every contributor deserves a mention, so here is a list of everyone who donated:

The contributors for the campaign included Tilyard Autos Ltd, QS Support, Jacqueline Offen (J&J Systems), Ian Aylwin (Redbox), Maidstone Distillery, Paul Sperry (Bluestone leasing), Alan Adkins (AJA Solutions), Nott Office, John Beaumont (Concept Cubicles), Reg and Sue, DTX Solutions, Watson Day, Castledene, Mavis and Terry, Joe Dixon, Chris Passmore (2SB Management Systems), Jim Hidler (Hodel Consulting Engineers), Ergo Technical Services, Donna Jones (Magical Motown N Soul), Redkey Concepts, Tradefair, Kerry Water, Farley Electrical, ADSN Solutions, Bray & Son Removal, Wateringbury School, DELA Fire, Shaw Contract Carpets, Absolute Hygiene Solutions Work Place Services, Handrail Design, JWS Kent, Wateringbury School, Holy Family RC Primary School, and Gen2.

Julie Anderson, Rap Interiors Design Director, comments on the success of the campaign:

“Everyone at Rap Interiors is delighted by what has been achieved and would like to say a huge thank you to those who contributed. In fact, Rap received so many donations that some of the food and essentials were distributed to another homeless charity in Brighton!

We were overwhelmed this year; our offices turned into a drop off centre and managing the split between the clothes became my full time job – but I loved every minute of it. 2019’s campaign was simply amazing and seeing the incredible results makes all the hard work worthwhile. With so many gifts to wrap – the Rap elves became a production line of sellotape, wrapping and packing, even whilst singing.”

To add to the good news, Julie Anderson and co are planning to do another Help the Homeless campaign this year. Their aim is to help even more homeless people during Christmas 2020, which looks like a realistic goal following the success of 2019’s campaign. Everyone at Rap will be hoping that the momentum of last year’s campaign carries on through into Christmas 2020 to make this goal a reality!

Rap’s charitable work will continue through the year by supporting Alzheimers research and helping a local school deliver a ‘Dementia café’, where students will meet those suffering and bring a day of fun and singing. To keep up to date with the exciting campaigns, follow Rap Interiors on its social media channels.

About Rap Interiors

Rap Interiors, a family business, is a major design, fit out and refurbishment company with offices in Maidstone, Brighton, London and Croydon. With over 30 years of experience, Rap has built a reputation as one of the leading design and build companies in London and the South East. Find out more here.

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