A pre-Christmas look at Hertfordshire's charities
The first in a three-part feature, as featured in the Hemel Gazette
Christmas is a time for many things, and they aren’t all about presents, debauchery and family.
In fact, the festive season can be a particularly difficult time for people in need and a demanding one for charities.
But if you are looking for a good cause to donate to, over the next three weeks we will be looking at a selection of charities across the local area.
l Once again the Hospice of St Francis is running its Light Up A Life appeal this Christmas, giving everyone the chance to dedicate a light on their Christmas tree to lost loved one.
The Berkhamsted-based hospice has been providing specialist care and support for people living with life-limiting illnesses across Herts and Bucks for over 30 years.
As well as giving medical, emotional and practical support to patients in the hospice, at home, and in other care settings, it also supports their families and carers.
The tree lights were switched on last weekend, and will continue to burn brightly throughout the festive period.
Hospice CEO Steve Jamieson said: “As we approach Christmas, it’s a time when we celebrate, remember and give thanks for family and friends we have lost.
“Many people derive comfort from knowing that the lights on our Remembrance Tree symbolise a loved one and are shining brightly in their memory.
“Over the festive season our nursing staff work tirelessly to ensure that patients being cared for in our Inpatient Unit, as well as their families, enjoy a special time. Any contributions the community makes to our Light up a Life appeal will help pay for the over £5million annual cost of providing this support over Christmas, and beyond into 2017.”
It costs nothing to dedicate a star but, if you would like to remember someone or make a donation to the hospice’s Light Up a Life Appeal to help ensure that those facing loss receive the care and support they need not just at Christmas but all year round, visit www.stfrancis.org.uk/lightupalife or call 01442 869555.
l You can also support the The Hospice of St Francis over the festive period by joining the Santa Dash in town on Sunday.
The 2.5-mile fun run, sponsored by Belvoir Lettings, starts at the Riverside and costs just £15 for adults, £5 for children, or £35 for the whole family (including the dog!), which includes your Santa suits.
At the finish line everyone receives a shiny medal, mince pie and hot drink, with treats for children.
There will also be a Santatastic prize for the hound declared Dacorum’s Best Dressed Festive Dashing Dog, donated by Berkhamsted dog grooming parlour, Groom.
Everyone who dashes is also asked to raise what they can in sponsorship to support families like Emma who need hospice care at Christmas time, and throughout the year.
Registration is from 9am and the race starts at 10am.
l Used car dealership Northridge Cars are collecting gifts donated for deserving children this Christmas.
Shoppers are encouraged to donate a gift until Friday, December 16, and in return they will receive a free winter health check for their car.
The firm is running the scheme with radio station Heart, supporting the charity Watford Mencap who support people with learning disabilities, their families and carers.
Gifts can be dropped off at Northridge Cars, Heart Watford Studio, or various pop up donation stations across the county.
l And a pet food company based in Hemel is running a month-long online campaign to celebrate the work of animal charities across the UK.
Barking Heads, Meowing Heads has launched ‘12 Days of Christmas’ where the public can nominate charities whose work they admire to become prize winners in 12 separate giveaways.
These could be local shelters, fundraising groups, or any organisations who work tirelessly to improve animal welfare.
The winning charities will receive Barking Heads, Meowing Heads food, increasing in value throughout the campaign. On the final giveaway, a 12kg bag of ‘Turkey Delight’ will be awarded to an organisation who Barking Heads believe have been truly outstanding in their care for animals.
As a thank you for nominating and supporting the campaign, those whose selected charities are chosen will also receive a 2kg bag of food.
Giveaways will take place until December 24.
To nominate a charity visit the Barking Heads, Meowing Heads Facebook page or tweet them at @BarkingHeads or @MeowingHeads.