Dear Friends from Last Years # For Daniel and Former Rucksack Projects, thank you for joining us again as we try to make a difference this winter.
As you know, sadly last year Matthew White, the guy who started the Rucksack Project was so disillusioned following some fraudulent behaviour elsewhere
in the country at Projects the previous year - (how low can you get?), that he ended his involvment and asked that people no longer use the name The Rucksack Project. Undetered we chose a new name and aim to contiune in Maidstone. As you can see Sarah and myself chose the name #ForDaniel...
I'll let Sarah explain why...
" My brother Daniel was kind, he would do anything for you if he could. He was talented, he could literally turn his hand to anything, and was very good at it. I was his big sister but he always made me feel that he was older, I guess because of the protective brotherly way he acted around me. He'd smile and I'd think how was looking more and more like my Dad the older he got. How I wish I could see that smile again. The smile that is smiling back at me everyday from the photo frame isnt quite the same. But it's all I have now. Daniel died in February 2013. He had been rough sleeping after spiralling into a world where so many feel trapped with no way out...Alcoholism. Dan's life became a torment of not wanting to live that life and the torturous battle of stopping drinking. That year it was a particularly hard winter, temperatures dropped to below freezing, snow fell and laid. Daniel succumbed to the temperatures and died of hypothermia.
Why do this? I couldnt help Daniel and I cant help all of our rough sleepers this winter or next winter but what I can do is help make things a little easier. A bit of warmth in those gloves, or a bit of happiness in those dry socks but above all for me, a bit of hope. Daniel is always in the forefront of my mind and I miss him evey day and I know that he would be so proud of each and every one of you helping this cause. So when I see the smiles of those receiving our rucksacks, I can see Daniel smiling too.
So from the very bottom of my heart, I thank you all for giving your time.. Just a little gesture goes a very long way. Thank you, Sarah"
Daniel is the main reason Sarah and myself have coordinated this for the last 4 years so it seems so fitting that we continue in his memory....Thank you for staying with us.
The concept is so simple - get a rucksack and fill it with some items that will help to make winter a little more comfortable for someone who is sleeping rough this winter; a sleeping bag, a fleece, some thick socks, clean underwear, gloves, hat, scarf. Some non-perishable food, such as cans of soup (with ring pulls) cereal bars, and a thermos flask. etc.(Full list below) You may have items around your home that you no longer need; you may be able to find some good bargains in charity shops, and pound stores.
On 15th December you can drop your complete rucksack off to one of our volunteers at the venue and the following day we will drop some off to The Day Centre in town and some to the Don Doel Foundation that runs The Soup Kitchen.
If you cannot make it on the day, you can still join in, either by arranging to drop your rucksack off beforehand or by arranging with another rucksack friend to collect yours and bring it with theirs.
This year again we are asking that you bring COMPLETE rucksacks only, we appreciate that this can be difficult for just one person, couple or family, so we suggest that you club together with family, friends, neighbours or work colleagues to collect most / all of the items on the list.
Alternatively, you can donate nearly new or new trainers,shoes or coats instead of a rucksack, however as lovely as it is to treat people, please remember that the people you are generously helping, have very little and we don't want to provoke jealousy or arguments, so we recommend that if you wish do this you donate or purchase less expensive items. We suggest buying good quality items from charity shops - that way everyone benefits!
Also a lot of homeless or vulnerably housed people have pets, it might not be a choice for everyone, but donations of dog food will be very gratefully received - to a lot of the people we are trying to reach, their dog is their best friend or all they have.
Spread the word – get your friends and family involved, share this on your time line and invite people to the group. Tell your community groups about it.
Rucksack List Essentials:
Rucksack or Holdall with Shoulder Strap
Underwear (Gents or Ladies)
Tins of soup and non perishable food ie: noodles, cup a soups, cereal bars, chocolate etc
Spoon - plastic only please
Optional Extras: (Not all of them!)
Sanitary Items for Ladies
Deodorant (roll on only please)
Packs of cards
Puzzle Books and Pens
Paper Backs or Magazine
Coffee or Chocolate Sachets
Torch and batteries.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read through all this and to support vulnerable and homeless people in Maidstone. Even if you can't help us this year, please invite your friends and share.
You will make such a difference - Claire and Sarah x x