Hamper help for Halewood pensioners

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Paul Burke and his partner. Pic by © Paul Burke

Paul Burke and his partner. Pic by © Paul Burke

Christmas time will soon be here and while it is a day so many take for granted, with a loving home and presents under the tree, not everybody can afford such luxuries.

A Halewood resident does his bit to help pensioners in the area by accepting donations to make Christmas hampers.

Organiser Paul Burke told JMU Journalism: “The idea came about when I was at a bus stop and I overheard two pensioners talking about the weather getting colder and how much more difficult it is for them to go shopping in the winter, especially at Christmas when the shops are really busy.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for the elderly and it played on my mind a bit.”

The 37-year-old runs a Facebook group called Halewood Hollywood, which has over 1,000 members, and when he put the idea on the social media site, the response back was encouraging. From there, Paul asked people to nominate a pensioner whose name was then put into a draw.

The campaign is now in its fifth year and has help from the Halewood Community Spirit (HCS), a group of volunteers which organises and promotes activities for the benefit of the residents in Halewood. It started with 15 pensioners receiving a hamper, then last year all 40 people who were nominated received the present.

Mr Burke said: “Myself and my father delivered the hampers. At the time I was living back at my parents’ house and used the back garden shed for storage. The hampers are always a good size, I’m a big guy and I struggle to carry them.”

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Having won a community achievement award for fundraising and helping locals, Paul wishes he could help more but states he does what he can for his own community.

He has recently become a father and was not going to do the hampers again, but he told JMU Journalism: “I wanted to dedicate my time to family life for the first Christmas in five years as the hampers keep me busy, but when I asked others to take over from me, no-one seems keen or had the time enough to do it.

“I could not bring myself to let expectant pensioners down, so instead I now have a bit of help from two fellow Halewood residents, Emma McGinley and Michael Grogan, who unlike me both drive so we can collect donations from people.

“We hope this year to deliver as many, if not more hampers as last year so fingers crossed.”

About Aaliyah Rugg, JMU Journalism