Richard Whittington Primary School pupils give gift-filled Christmas shoeboxes to the homeless in and around Bishop's Stortford
A huge heap of shoeboxes filled with everyday essentials as well as seasonal luxuries will be handed out to the homeless this Christmas thanks to kind-hearted children at Richard Whittington Primary School.
About 40 boxes, with contents ranging from cosmetics to confectionery, were made up by pupils in response to an annual appeal by former pupil and parent Robbie Linsell.
Robbie, who owns the town's Paragon Fitness Studio, has been running his Christmas shoebox collection since 2013. This year, a record amount have been handed over, with the number totalling more than 280. Items donated have included shower gel, shampoo and soap, shaving foam, nail clippers and deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash, make-up, lip balm and sanitary products, pens and notepads, and hats, scarves, gloves and socks.
Richard Whittington's assistant head teacher Amanda Wild said the school chose to support Robbie's appeal as part of its efforts to create links with the community and to help raise the concern of homelessness in the area with the children.
"When we delivered the boxes, Robbie told the children where he delivered them to and why people might need a box," she said. "This could be due to them being homeless and living on the streets, in temporary accommodation or just not being able to afford the luxuries we had put into the boxes.
"It has been important to talk to the children about this and for them to realise that not everyone is as lucky as they are. They felt they had made a difference to someone's life and we hope the people who received the shoeboxes could find a use for the contents."
Robbie, whose children George, 15, and Lola, 12, are former Richard Whittington pupils, has distributed the boxes to homeless shelters, halfway houses and women's refuges in Bishop's Stortford and surrounding areas as well as to the town's YMCA and night shelter.
"The first time I started doing this I wanted to get 50 boxes, and every year since it's got bigger and bigger," he said. "I'd like to thank the pupils and parents at Richard Whittington for their efforts this year, and the Hockerill Sixth Formers who have also donated about 40 boxes. Our gym members, family and friends have also been really generous, as always."