The 33RD Christmas Tree Appeal
THE 33RD CHRISTMAS TREE APPEAL
A Very Important Message from the Appeal Organiser
Date: - 20th February 2021
To: - All the Brethren of the Province of Bristol
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
That comes from an awful lot of people who need so much help the whole year round but especially so at Christmas. Your generosity knows no bounds and whilst our initial plan was to just keep the idea of the Christmas Tree in Freemasons Hall and its purpose going during the Pandemic and by that ensure we were able to get away to a good start come Christmas 2021.
As you were all aware, we had a small emergency fund and we decided to give that away completely. We contacted all the Charities and Organisations we normally support. Our idea was to apologise that we could not donate the bags of toys and toiletries etc. etc., but we hoped that a small donation would come in handy. Every one of them said they appreciated us getting in touch with them and any donation would be gratefully received, especially as things were extremely tight in the present climate.
What we decided to do was divide the Emergency Fund equally amongst the Charities and Organisations we have supported for many years. Then virtually before we could get started “The Bristol Masonic Benevolent Institution” contacted us to let us know they would be making a donation to the Appeal and they hoped this would help us. (I would add here they help us with a donation every year and it is very much appreciated and is a little like “feed corn” to help get the wheels rolling) This was brilliant because it meant that whilst we had anticipated donating about £100 we could now make it £200.
The “flood gates” then opened and everything seemed to change on a daily basis. You guys were so generous, and I seemed to spend all my time on the telephone to the “organisations” who we normally delivered toys to, asking them how else we could help them. Those ones we normally sent monetary donations to, were fairly straight forward, as it was just the amount of the donation that needed agreeing. However, dealing with the “refuges and the outreach workers” was slightly different. We therefore ended up donating some monetary donations but mainly “superstore vouchers”. I was in constant touch with the Charities etc., which was great because I was really getting to know them and how they worked on a daily basis. However, I was not the favourite customer at the ASDA, TESCO and Morrison’s Customer Service Counters, when I walked in and asked if I could buy some vouchers. (Each of the organisations told me which vouchers would be best for them.) No problems would say the Lady behind the counter, how many do you want? £400 worth please. Face changed. We can only sell them in “5’s”, she would say. Okay then I’ll keep coming back every ten minutes and have another 5!!A chat with her Manager, and needless to say, we got over the problem. I think I got the award for being the best customer at Asda, and Morrison’s at Cribbs Causeway and Tesco at Willowbrook, for December. You should have seen the face of the Lady behind me in the queue who only wanted a packet of fags
I think it is fair to say, that things were now starting to get serious. Donations were coming in and everyone, no matter how much it was for, was like a piece of gold, and very much appreciated. As well as individual donations we also received some from Lodges and I thank the Officers of those Lodge for taking the trouble to ring round and get a general approval. Then things took on a slightly different slant and our very good friends, the Ladies of the Longwell Green W.I. got involved. It would be unfair to say they had only just got involved, as Sandra Hill had been in contact with me, for some time, to ask what could they do, as all the Members were keen to do something. Why can’t we do a parcel of toiletries for each of the places to whom we normally deliver Toys and Toiletries to each year? What a good idea and that was agreed. I would add that we also received a very sizable cheque from the Girls as well, which was very much appreciated. Where we would normally do a box full of various toiletries for every place, this year, we decided every place would get 50L heavy duty storage boxes full. This did cause me a slightly embarrassing situation in Stroud, where we meet the Women’s Aid volunteers in the Police Station car park and usually hand over the toys etc. I managed with a bit of a struggle to lift one of the boxes from my low backed 4 x 4 into her high backed 4 x 4, and when I turned round she had lifted the other box with no problems at all !!, and she was a lot smaller than me.
Normally we would have the facilities at Freemasons Hall, to collect and store the items we are donating, however this year, no such luck. For the best part of December, Sandra Hill’s, dining room and spare bedroom was a “no go area” as was the whole of our house in Portishead. My Daughter, Lynda’s dining room and conservatory in Bradley Stoke was not only stacked full but was also used as a sorting area for the 50L boxes, and I know my Son in Law was very pleased to see them all go in the week before Christmas.
Another big thank you must go to the “Pallet Pals”, Mike Whitworth and Chris Cook for the fantastic donation they gave from the excellent Christmas Hamper Raffle, they held. Thanks Guys. Although of course it was all of you who again gave generously to that fund raiser.
This year because of the various problems we were experiencing I delivered all the donations myself, which was good, because I was able to get to meet in person, people I had been dealing with over the years. However, I would still like to thank my usual “Santa’s Helpers” Barry Leat, Simon Vowles, Geoff Hunt, Martin Leather and Gerald Slade who were in touch all the time to see if they could help.
The culmination of all this was that we received donations totalling £ 12,742.50. and we donated over £12,500 in Money, Vouchers and Toiletries. (The balance going to start next year’s Emergency Fund.)
We do not publish a list of donors or amounts as every donation is equally as much appreciated. However, a Private Donors list is presented to the Provincial Grand Master and Provincial Charity Steward, for record purposes. A similar list is presented as to where the donations etc. were sent and we have attached a list of the Charities and Organisations we supported this year, for your perusal. Most of the recipients send a letter of thanks and all of these are put on the “Communications Board” for all to see. Most of them mention in their “Thank You Letters and Cards” the amount they have received. I can assure you nearly all of them received somewhere in the region of four time more than what we would normally be able to donate. THIS IS ALL DUE TO YOU - FROM ALL OF THEM, (and Me) THANK YOU TO ALL YOU FREEMASONS OF BRISTOL FOR MAKING 2020 A RECORD YEAR, and a happier Christmas for many.
Best Wishes and Stay Well.
W.Bro. Tony Rance
Christmas Tree Appeal Organiser
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