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Sheppey family launch Christmas charity shoebox appeal for homeless

A Sheppey family are hoping to brighten up the festive period for people who will be sleeping rough.

Sarah Coccia, from Minster, and her daughters Gabby, 13, and Fifi, 11, are running a Christmas shoebox appeal for the homeless.

Fifi and Sarah Coccia have been collecting gift boxes for various charities
Fifi and Sarah Coccia have been collecting gift boxes for various charities

This is the second year they've run the appeal – last year they collected about 300 gift-filled boxes, which were dished out to those in need in Swale, Medway and Maidstone.

This year, the trio want to distribute even more boxes but they only have until the end of this month to collect them.

Sarah said: "We've got a number of drop-off points on Sheppey, in Medway and Maidstone.

"Once they've been dropped off, we collect the boxes and take them to homeless charity Pathways to Independence, in Rochester, where they're then collected by local homeless shelters and soup kitchens which distributes them to homeless people on Christmas Eve."

"But we have less than two weeks left to get all the boxes in," the 41-year-old added.

The scheme has been set up to help the homeless
The scheme has been set up to help the homeless

Sarah said boxes, which are usually wrapped in festive wrapping paper, are still needed for men, women, and dogs. They already have enough for children.

The boxes can be filled with items such as toiletries, sanitary products, socks, hats, scarves, sweets, and something to do, like playing cards or a book. Some may also include a Christmas card or letter.

They then need to be labelled, before they're dropped off, so it's clear who they're for, for example 'male' or 'female'.

When asked how it all started, Sarah said: "In early winter last year, the girls and I met a homeless man, called David, in Chatham.

"It was a really cold evening and I asked if he'd had any dinner and he hadn't. We bought fish and chips and took it back to him.

"This year, Fifi said she really wanted to do it again – but we want to beat last year's total."

"A few weeks on, I said to Fifi about doing something for charity at Christmas, she wanted to give David a Christmas present and that's where it all started.

"We started the shoeboxes and delivered over 150 boxes to Medway specifically, to make sure David got one.

"This year, Fifi said she really wanted to do it again – but we want to beat last year's total."

Sarah said a lot of the feedback she had received was that children loved taking part.

"It really gets them thinking about giving something at Christmas to people less fortunate than ourselves, which I think is really important," she added.

The boxes for this year's appeal need to be dropped off by Friday, November 29.

The drop-off points are:

  • Sheerness: Kidz City, Bridge Road, from 9.30am-5.30pm Monday to Friday; A Y's Man micropub, 10 Marine Parade, from 4.30-9pm Tuesday to Saturday, or noon to 2.30pm on Sunday
  • Halfway: The Heritage micropub, Minster Road from 4.30-11pm on Tuesday or Friday, 4.30-9pm on Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 11pm on Saturday, or noon to 10pm on Sunday.
  • Maidstone: St Paul’s Church Office, Boxley Road, during church opening times or The Mall, Pad's Hill, at the Ask Me Point on Level 3
  • Medway: 80 Sir Evelyn Road, Rochester, from 8.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday

To find out more, visit the 'Christmas Gifts for the Homeless' Facebook page.

Read more: All the latest news from the Isle of Sheppey

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