Every Christmas “Time for the Homeless” a local charity that covers Maidstone and some parts of Medway hosts a Christmas Day Meal for the homeless. The festivities usually take place at a local venue in Maidstone.
As we are all aware, 2020 has been a challenging year for everybody but for some, it meant the loss of homes for various reasons which resulted in the increased need for wonderful charities such as “Time for the Homeless.”
The increased numbers that required the services of the charity, has put a strain on their resources and it was brought to the attention of the Group 5 Chairman Worshipful Brother Roy Brooks.
Roy engaged in conversation with Marie Jordan from the Charity to enquire what specifically could be done by Freemasons in Group 5, (Maidstone, West Malling, Cranbrook, & Paddock Wood) and how they could assist.
The Coordinator for the Maidstone area Mrs Marie Jordan, asked if we could provide any Christmas food items to help them provide a Christmas Dinner to some of the 55 homeless individuals and low-income households that they were currently supporting.
Roy sent out an appeal to the Freemasons of Group 5, asking if they could help in providing any of the following items requested by the charity. (see below)
Car loads of food & other goods
Food ready in the vehicles
Lots of Sweets
Food ready to be collected
A list of food required for the Dinners
Christmas dinners looking good.
Ready to be served
Roy set up Covid-19 secure a drop-off and collection point in the car park of the Maidstone Masonic Centre in Tovil on the 12th Dec between 10.00 am and Noon.
At 9.45 am Roy and his wife Wendy arrived at the Maidstone Masonic Centre and there were already Freemasons waiting to make their donations, over the next 2 hours the cars kept coming with the donations of food and other items including clothing and toiletries.
One Brother kindly donated 45 brand new pairs of Thermalite Gloves and 45 brand new Thermalite beanie hats along with 50 boxes of Roses, Quality Street and Heroes.
While another Brother, a landlord of an excellent public house local to Maidstone, donated catering packs of meat, vegetables, sauces, tea, coffee and soft drinks. In addition to all of the other individual donations a truly awesome response from the Freemasons of Maidstone, West Malling, Cranbrook, & Paddock Wood.
We also like to thank the members of the Fleur de Lis Lodge No 8969, for personal donations which totalled £290.00 This will assist the Charity to continue their work through the worst of the winter months.
With the assistance of Mark Costelloe, an Assistant Provincial Grand Master and his wife Karen, WBro Colin Rickard and his wife Sharon, their new Puppy Solomon, along with Bro’s Iain Knox, & Nik Marinov, several cars were filled with an incredible volume of donations.
The volume of donations was such that we were also able to donate 2 carloads via Mrs Sarah Hudson to the Wateringbury Village Fridge Food Bank.
Due to the Tier 4 restrictions that were implemented in Kent by the Government on the 19th of December 2020, the Charity was unable to host an indoor Christmas dinner event as in previous years.
However, not deterred, they made all the meals required and provided a give and go service to the homeless individuals on the 21st and 22nd December 2020. They were also able to support some vulnerable families with meals for Christmas.
The give and go meals were full Christmas dinners with all the trimmings, plus a goody bag of our favourite Christmas chocolates. There were also Christmas shoeboxes donated which contained a few luxury items and essentials such as toiletries.
5 Low-income families who are currently being supported by Time for the Homeless were also supported with Christmas food parcels.