For the second year, our Parish has organised Reverse Advent Calendars (RAC) for two local charities: the Colchester Women’s Refuge and the Colchester Night Shelter. Participants fill shoe boxes with 24(ish) small gifts for men, women, or children.

Last year we had an overwhelming response, with over 100 boxes filled for our charities. We decided to do this again this Christmas.

The Women’s Refuge

One of our Parishioners, Viv Talbot and her daughter Yvette, delivering the boxes to the Women’s Refuge

This charity provides a sanctuary for women who are placed here and come from anywhere in the UK. Most are under 30 years old and many have 1-3 children with them. A women’s Reverse Advent Calendar box could typically contain deodorant, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, sanitary towels, small food items like a tin of beans, spaghetti etc. whilst for a child it could contain crayons, a scribble pad, chocolate bars, sweets, small toys or puzzles etc.

The staff have asked not to wrap any of the items in the box in case any of the clients have special dietary requirements or allergies. The staff would like the box decorated and lid separate, fastening the 2 together with a ribbon or string so that they can open the box before distributing it to ensure its safety.

The Night shelter

This charity serves homeless men and women where they can stay for up to 28 days whilst some form of assisted housing or care is sorted out for them along with assistance in getting a job, further education or counselling. A Reverse Advent Calendar here could contain items such as socks, gloves, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, chocolate or sweets. The staff would love you to wrap the presents if possible, to give the recipients a surprise and something to “open”.  Alternatively, if you don’t want to fill a box with small items the Night Shelter are also appealing for new pillows, pyjamas, dressing gowns, jogging bottoms, t-shirts or men’s underwear.

Please note

Both charities request that you DO NOT GIFT ALCOHOL, CIGARETTES OR RAZORS/RAZOR BLADES OR MONEY. If you wish to include a small Christmas gift, please do so in the form of a gift or a voucher towards clothes or a warm drink/food.