In a year that brought so much uncertainty and devastation, a group of kind-hearted local Santa’s helpers decided to put a smile on every face in Kingston’s care homes.
Crowdfunder RBKares, helped local businesses including Tony’s Fruit Stall and Dizzy and Dotty Gifts, distributed over 3,000 gifts to 47 local care homes in the borough, along with 6,000 cards made by the school children of Kingston.
Kate Kenyon, founder of RBKares, said the charity was created as a way to thank local care homes for their hard work during this pandemic.
“They lost colleagues as well as residents. They held our relatives’ hands, tried to help them connect with us using technology,” she said.
“A few of us felt so strongly that these carers needed to be thanked and the residents needed to know they hadn’t been forgotten. So, we got together and made it happen, we formed RBKares.
“We set up a fundraiser which wasn’t growing fast enough but by doing shout outs on local WhatsApp groups, Facebook and Twitter, the community jumped on board and started dropping off gifts at various collection points.”
According to Kenyon, RBKares is made of “passionate, extreme hardworking, kind people”. One of these is Amanda Hennessy, who took the cause to heart and helped Kate and the team bring this project to life.
“We wanted to do something for those who felt very lost, very forgotten and very isolated and had a difficult Christmas ahead of them, so we put a call out to the community to get donations and gifts, and the community responded in the most amazing way,” she said.
“What we wanted to do was to get one gift for each staff member and we also wanted to give gifts to the lonely people in care homes who have no family, no friends, don’t get phone calls, don’t get letters, no visitors, so they will have gifts to open on Christmas morning.”
“Yesterday we began to deliver approximately 3,000 gifts and 6,000 cards made by local children, and they’ve gone to 47 care homes within the royal borough of Kingston.”
Another major contributor to this large-scale community act of kindness was Anthony Goshawk, owner of Tony’s Fruit Stall at Kingston Market.
Goshawk organised a ruffle in order to give all the profit to RBKares to help bring joy and happiness to local care homes.
“The idea was to raise £10,000 so everybody could get a present,” he said.
“[RBKares] thought they wouldn’t get anywhere near it, so I decided to give a hand, I did a ruffle which has raised £1,000, but they’ve done lots of work themselves, they’ve actually reached their target.”
“How it works, everyone that comes here and donates £1 to RBKares I give them free raffle tickets.
“The prizes, a good butcher donated, the fish monger in the stall next to me, and obviously I am giving fruits and vegs, and then some local shops got involved as well, Tony and Guy with an £80 voucher, Hotter, and so on.”
Goshawk raised over £1,000 just with his raffle, which he donated entirely to RBKares as an act of generosity.
The raffle took place last Wednesday morning at Tony’s Fruit Stall, and the mayor of Kingston herself was the innocent hand that picked the winning tickets.
After the raffle the mayor took a few moments to show her appreciation.
“I think it is just wonderful that Tony has done such a huge amount for Kingston, he’s so community minded,” said Councillor Margaret Thompson, mayor of Kingston upon Thames.
“His stall is just the centre of so many good things happening, and I am very, very grateful.”
Some care homes have already shown gratitude and appreciation to RBKares:
Claire Windsor manager of Amy Woodgate care home, one of the care homes that received the gifts, told RBKares in a message: “I can’t thank you enough for all the wonderful gifts, all of the residents received two cards each which was a real treat, they had so much joy opening and reading them out to each other.”
“After the year we have had, it was lovely to be able to give each stuff member a little treat.”
On behalf of RBKares, Hennessy said she wanted to thank everyone involved in this act of kindness.
“None of this would have been possible without the help of local businesses such as Tony’s Fruit Stall and all the traders in the market-place, Dizzy and Dotty Gifts, Bee Inspired, Take the Cake Ltd, Sewing Angels, Zena, Sewing Dreams, No 97, Richard Pernod, Park Brewery, Beckett, Thames Ditton gin, local knitters, quilters as well has Co-op, Surbiton Waitrose and the Surbiton Farmers Market,” she said.