From t-shirts to lunch boxes - generous donation to Salvation Army impacts children across the UK, Africa and Ukraine

published on 24 Aug 2018

Bourne leisure donations

The Salvation Army in Luton has benefitted from a generous donation given by Bourne Leisure, a UK company that supplies coastal holidays for families. The company gifted more than 50,000 items for children that have been distributed across the UK and beyond, between May and July this year.

Carolyn Gomersall, Salvation Army Children and Families worker in Luton said: “Bourne Leisure had a re-brand of their kids’ merchandise for Haven holidays and they asked us if we could make use of more than 50,000 items for children, and we were glad to accept. The donation included t-shirts, shorts, sun hats, swimsuits, flip-flops and trainers, sunglasses, drinks cups, mugs and plates, lunch boxes, craft items, stationery, jigsaws and many more items – all new and unused.”

Also on hand to support was Retro Restored, a local Pulloxhill company that agreed to help store the items for three months. Carolyn said: “We could not have done it without them.” 
Throughout the year, Luton Salvation Army works with many family workers from local schools and social services from Luton Borough Council. It also works with other local charities, such as women’s refuge centres, to provide food, toys and other resources for disadvantaged children. 

The Salvation Army runs activities in the church that cater for local children, including summer ‘stay and play’, family fun nights, messy church and a toddler group.
Carolyn and the church leaders have worked with schools and other agencies to distribute the goods over spring and summer. Carolyn said: “We have discovered the needs of others through unlikely ways. I heard about a scheme in Stevenage through which families could access free swimming lessons for their kids. However, many of the parents couldn’t send their kids, because they couldn’t provide the swim kits needed. We had the very items that were required.”

Diane Wenham from Stevenage Borough Council said: “We are so pleased with the items received. The children we have come into contact with really value having something new to wear or play with and it makes a positive difference to their confidence and self-esteem. Having a stock of different aged swimwear has enabled about ten families to enjoy our voucher scheme for free swimming. The donations have been used with about 30 families so far, and we still have stock left to distribute.”

Carolyn added: “One of our school family workers from Luton had also been in touch to say that a single parent she had been working with had just moved from bed-sit accommodation to rented accommodation and asked if we could help them. We were able to provide pots and pans, cutlery, bedding and toys.
“Some items even went as far as Zimbabwe, Malawi and Uganda, to children’s homes supported by other local charities, such as the Rotary Club. Many went to other Salvation Army churches across the UK.”

Salvation Army church leader, Major Maxine Walker said: “We were delighted with Bourne Leisure’s donation and it has already made a big impact with 1,125 families touched by the giving. Donations from companies, such as Bourne Leisure and Retro Restored, organisations, groups and individuals are an enabling force for good in the world. Not only are some children in Stevenage now able to take up swimming lessons - a small thing you would think, but it means a lot to those parents and children - but families further afield in Africa and the Ukraine will also remember the kindness of the UK.”

Luton Salvation Army helps to distribute food parcels provided by the Luton foodbank and 650 children received toys provided by the church for Christmas last year. The Salvation Army toy appeal is funded partly by local financial donations and mainly by local churches and businesses donating brand new toys. 

Luton Salvation Army also hosted 70 local schoolchildren, who would normally receive free school meals during term time, for lunch on 23 – 27 July. In addition, they have welcomed up to 50 children and their parents/carers during their summer ‘stay and play’ programme that runs on Mondays and Wednesdays for three weeks over the holidays. Lunch is also provided during the activity.