Staff at Gentoo will be giving the best gift of all this Christmas – their time.
This year some of their 1,200 strong workforce will be getting into the spirit of Christmas by giving up their time to help some of the most vulnerable people in the city. In the run-up to Christmas, Gentoo staff will be going out of their way to help those in the community, who are socially isolated or struggling financially.
Gentoo has launched their annual Christmas campaign, encouraging the local community to donate gifts, food and toys. These are then given to local charities and food banks across the city. Often a donated present is the only gift someone receives. Donations can vary from food, toys, toiletries, selection boxes, clothing, pet treats and other unused gifts. All donations will be delivered by Gentoo volunteers.
Last year, more than 300 adults and children across Sunderland received toys, gift sets, clothing and toiletries, while food parcels were delivered to Elim Church Food Bank, Washington Community Food Project, the Armed Forces Veterans Group and Hetton Food Bank – Loaves and Fishes.
Volunteers who play a brass instrument will also be bringing a little Christmas cheer to Gentoo’s sheltered housing schemes and their team of ‘Befrienders’, will be volunteering to spend time with those who are socially isolated.
Gentoo is also supporting Christmas in the city in partnership with Sunderland’s Business Improvement District. They will have a stall at the Park Lane Christmas Market that is taking place from 24 November – 24 December. It will be a Community Hub where Gentoo staff will be wrapping presents for a small charge to support corporate charities Macmillan, Grace House and Walking with the Wounded. Local community groups and charities will also be selling a selection of handmade gifts to support local charities.
Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID said it is fantastic to have Gentoo on board.
“We’ve got a packed programme in the city centre over Christmas and the market at Park Lane is going to be one of the highlights,” she said.
“It’s not only going to offer some great gift ideas but now, thanks to Gentoo, shoppers can take the pain out of wrapping presents and support some worthy causes at the same time. We’re hoping people will also visit our pop-up city centre which will be hosting a great programme of community entertainment over the festive period.”
Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director (Operations) said: “We are so proud of our staff, customers and partners who continue to donate their time and money to make a difference to people’s lives. Christmas is a time of giving and even the smallest act of kindness can make such a huge difference.”
If you would like to donate an unused gift or food items you can drop them off at any Gentoo office up until Friday 8 December. You can also drop any gifts off outside Port of Call, where Sunderland’s Business Improvement District have a pop-up container as part of their Christmas activity.