Christmas bags for the homeless 'brought home how lucky we are to have a roof over our heads'

15 Christmas bags at gates of How Wood school

15 bags were assembled with Christmas gifts and essentials for those supported by St Albans Action for Homeless - Credit: Andrea Wright

A single mum from St Albans has teamed up with her son's school in a charity drive to help the homeless this Christmas.

Andrea Wright, who's son attends How Wood Primary School, put the wheels in motion to create Christmas bags for those facing homelessness this festive season.

A total of 15 bags, which were donated to St Albans Action For Homeless on Friday, were assembled by Andrea with the help of fellow single mums Hannah Browne and Sam Hennessy.

Pupils from the school got together to wrap presents and essentials, as well as write letters and cards for the bag's recipients. 

Letter with reindeer picture written by a school pupil

Pupils wrote letters for each of the 15 bags to be received by someone facing homelessness in St Albans - Credit: Andrea Wright

After assembling a wish list a little over a month ago, Andrea asked friends, family and people on local Facebook groups to contribute items for the bags.

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Andrea said: "I was coming home to 20, sometimes 30 parcels a day, and it just went off the scale really!

"A lot of people had seen what was on the wish list and ordered separately, so I ended up getting doubles of some of the items as well."

Some surplus bags, which are to the value of around £150, are being held back for Valentine's bags to be rolled out in the new year, to keep the initiative running.

Two pupils wrapping presents

Pupils at How Wood wrapped presents for those facing homelessness in St Albans this Christmas - Credit: Andrea Wright

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Andrea added: "One guy said it's absolutely made his Christmas, especially with the letters the kids from school sent.

"He said it absolutely warmed his heart and wants to write back to the school to thank the children and the head."

Pupils wrap Christmas present together

Pupils at How Wood wrapped presents for those facing homelessness in St Albans this Christmas - Credit: Andrea Wright

Andrea is hoping to be more hands on in the near future, with the aim of being trained to help the homeless first hand, and has been overwhelmed by support from members of the community to help out with future drives.

"With the pandemic going on, it really has brought home how lucky we are to have a roof over our heads and this is where, for people on the streets, it's a different story."

"There really has been great community spirit, from the whole of St Albans that have been supporting this."

Label that reads 'You are amazing and strong and brave, remember that'

Labels were attached to the 15 bags donated to St Albans Action for Homeless - Credit: Andrea Wright

"We really are a tight knit community. Our school's ethos is all about wellbeing. I'm really proud to be a part of it."

Headteacher Cynthia Rowe said: "The children of How Wood School feel privileged to have been asked to support this very worthy cause.

"It is so important that our children understand how fortunate they are and how giving to others can make such a difference.

"The staff and children of How Wood School are shining a light for the homeless people of St Albans and we hope that the cards, pictures and messages bring some comfort and joy this Christmas."

Children pose for group photo with bags

Pupils at How Wood pose with their festive bags before donating them to St Albans Action for Homeless - Credit: Andrea Wright

St Albans Action for Homeless said: “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for wrapping all the gifts and making beautiful cards for our lovely homeless friends in St Albans.

"We are truly humbled by your kindness and generosity. The cards have really captured their hearts and have come at the most needed time”.

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