Gethsemane works with appropriate State and Community agencies, in a form of practical partnership, when issues arise in regard to mental wellbeing.
2018 Christmas Preparation

2018 Christmas Preparation

October -November has been an extremely busy time at Gethsemane.

The first major task was the preparation of gift parcels. Nine schools do this complete task for specific facilities that they each focus on. They look after about 550 people in 9 facilities so they collect the material within their school; the students with the help of some of the staff and parents pack the parcels, they have received the bags from Gethsemane with the names etc and they deliver the packages personally to the clients in their designated facilities.

All of the rest have to be collected sorted and put into the appropriate parcels by a few volunteers in a limited area under the House at Gethsemane. Many people have been collecting the toiletry items that go into these parcels for the remaining 70+ places and groups, which focus on the special needs of these groups. Many schools assist by students of the various classes collecting simple toiletries that would be suitable for any of the groups; some other older groups collect specific toiletries including such things as quality razor blades and deodorants and some perfume for the women. .

In many cases there is insufficient material and more toiletries have to be purchased, a local chemist is very generous, obtaining items from various sources at cost price and other items they provide at cut prices.  Sweets are bought at various shops particularly when there are any sales;  a range is needed to cover the needs and likes of the disparate groups. Quite a number are diabetic and need special sugar free sweets and then there are older people in the nursing homes who prefer soft sweets whereas the young people in the group home prefer the opposite. All preferences are met as these are part of the special part of the gift which also contains some personal item suitable for each person.

As each group is completed the bags for the individuals, clearly marked, are placed in boxes which volunteers deliver to the given place so that they can be stored ready for distribution on Christmas Day.  The toiletry packages, for most of the set places, are completed by early November there are still packages to done for some individuals and those who come to lunch on Christmas Day.  The emphasis then changes to developing Food Hampers: Large Washing Baskets full of Christmas Cheer and other food are prepared for the Boarding Houses and the Group Homes.   The focus then is on the many people who live alone and have very little access to food over the Christmas period. As well as food of Christmas Cheer they are provided with many small tins of meat or tuna and tea bags etc to get them through the holiday period. These tins have been provided by many volunteers.

The next task of the Christmas Project is to enable each person in the above groups about 1200+ receives up to 10 Christmas Cards come from various School groups, Parish and other Religious groups who buy cards take some of the names available, write on them and address and stamp them and post; the address given is Gethsemane for Privacy reasons.  The final task of the volunteers is to stick the correct address on each of these cards and post.

The final task is to provide a Special Christmas dinner prepared  at Gethsemane with the help of volunteers and served to about 75 people who live  alone or in difficult situations, several of these have carers who are included at the table. Other volunteers serve the lunch. The hams are delivered each year by a group of Catholic Educational Staff and others make themselves available to deliver food or pick people up. Any food left over is taken to some of the nearby boarding houses and other institutions who really appreciate some more cake or pudding or ham and salad for their clients.

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