Families brought to tears by gifts from libraries

Gift bags being handed over to Ant the School Chaplin by Fran Hartley, treasurer of the Chantry Library Friends group

Gift bags being handed over to Ant the School Chaplin by Fran Hartley, treasurer of the Chantry Library Friends group - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

Families have been brought to tears by gifts organised by libraries in Suffolk. 

Chantry Library and its friends group recently made a special Christmas delivery to local families in need.

With a grant of £500 from Ipswich Borough Council and a £500 donation from the East of England Co-op, the library friends were able to make a gift of food vouchers to 20 local families in crisis who have been affected by the pandemic. 

The families each received a special gift bag with a £50 food voucher to spend in an East of England Co-op store along with additional festive treats.

The bags were distributed via Chantry Academy, which anonymously identified the 20 families.

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The friends group also donated an additional £200 and the local Tesco store donated an additional £40 to pay for the extra treats.

Vicki Mann, manager of Chantry Library, said: “We always try to provide something special for the local community at Christmas so together with Fran Hartley, the treasurer of our Library Friends group, we decided that we would like to help support local families who have been affected by the current situation.

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"It was an absolute pleasure taking the hampers to the school feeling like we had made a difference. I think at one time or another in our lives we have all felt financial strain, especially at Christmas.

"It can be a very lonely, unhappy time of year for families who find it hard to make ends meet. I hope that these 20 families will have a better Christmas.

“Everyone we have contacted for help has been brilliant. Ipswich Borough Council and our local councillor Peter Gardiner agreed extra funding for the idea and the East of England Co-op have matched this funding.

"Chantry Academy, Tesco and the rest of Friends group have also been really helpful. It shows that in the toughest of times we can all come together and help those who need our help most.”

Keith Greenwood, vice principal of Chantry Academy, said: “The families who received these gifts were extremely grateful, happy and some were overwhelmed to tears. 

"It has been such a hard year for many families and it was lovely for our staff to be able to deliver the parcels provided to give them a bit of joy and helping hand at this time of year.

"There were lots of smiles and ‘thank yous’. Thank you to all concerned that have made this happen – it genuinely has made a difference.”

Gainsborough Community Library also recently received £500 from county councillor Kim Clements’ Locality Budget. This has been used to provide Christmas craft and activity packs for young people who regularly use the library.

Gainsborough Library’s Friends group Voices 4 The Library also teamed up with St Augustine's Love Your Neighbour project and has provided 40 gift boxes for local families and isolated older users. 

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