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Students volunteer to spread Christmas cheer

Posted on 15/12/2009

Staff and students wrapped dozens of presents for older residents

Students became Santa’s little helpers as part of a month of volunteering to help often forgotten members of the community to enjoy a good Christmas.

They used the season of good will to continue their volunteering efforts, and this year the College’s Community Action volunteering programme partnered with local charity Age Concern Runnymede to help with their Christmas parcels scheme.

The Students’ Union was transformed into Santa’s workshop where more than 50 volunteering ‘elves’ wrapped and prepared 100 Christmas parcels for older people living in the community. The presents themselves were donated by staff and students from the College after 10 collection points were set up around the campus where presents could be donated. Jacqui Barton, from Age Concern Runnymede, said, “The volunteers’ hard work has been invaluable and the parcels will be going to elderly people in Runnymede who would not normally receive very much at Christmas.”

On Saturday (December 12) a team of eight students gave up their time to help with a special Christmas lunch for 24 older people. The event was organised in partnership with Englefield Green Village Residents’ Association (EGVRA) and students Michaela Niemela and Jon Saunders attended several EGVRA committee meetings over the past term to prepare and plan the day. The event was sponsored by local businesses and the funding by EGVRA was generously match-funded by the College’s Annual Fund. The lunch was held in the prestigious Founder’s Building and included reception drinks and a full Christmas dinner, during which the Egham Choral Society kindly came to sing carols.

The event, in its second year, was organised for local older residents who would not necessarily have had a Christmas lunch this year. Joyce Taylor, from EGVRA, said, “Many thanks to the volunteers for their help with the Christmas dinner for the local seniors, who all went home very happy, having had a very pleasant interlude. Several of them mentioned how nice it was to make contact with the students, and how much they enjoyed the youngsters helping them.”

Students have also been to visit local residential homes Birchlands, in Englefield Green, Merlewood, in Virginia Water and Manor Farm day centre, in Egham, to sing, dance and act out excerpts from productions. Absolute Harmony, Royal Holloway’s only acapella choir, joined residents to sing carols at the lighting of Englefield Green Christmas tree on December 8.

Over the first two weeks of December members of the university men’s Rugby Club and men’s and women’s Basketball Clubs collected funds for this year’s Christmas Collection organised by Egham Rotary Club. In the space of four evenings more than £1,000 was collected by the students to go towards supporting local charities. Cliff Want, Egham Rotary Club, said, “As always an enormous thank you - this helps make so much difference.”

For more information on the College’s volunteering projects see the Community Action website at www.rhul.ac.uk/CommunityAction


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