A Leicestershire funeral director’s annual drive to support the homeless community over the festive period has seen her overwhelmed with donations despite current restrictions.
The local community in Oadby and Wigston, as well as friends, family and colleagues have gone above and beyond to support Central England Co-op Funeral Director Janette Macleod as she prepares to deliver more than 100 bags of provisions for homeless, former-military personnel and other homeless people across Leicestershire in the run-up to Christmas.
Janette, 53, who works at our funeral homes in The Parade, Oadby and Leicester Road, Wigston, began supporting Coalville-based charity Once, We Were Soldiers five years ago, along with husband Jon, who served in the Royal Signals for 12 years.
The charity helps and gives assistance to the homeless veterans on the streets of Leicester and those that are in sheltered accommodation who have very little help.
Janette said: “When I first began my collections, it started off as a Christmas Shoe Box appeal. Over the years, it has progressed much, much further to actually producing up to and sometimes over 100 individual bags to take to the streets of Leicester, and also hampers to provide for the veterans in sheltered accommodation.
“It is something I am incredibly passionate about – it breaks my heart to see people having to live on the streets so I am determined to do what I can to support.
“We provide in each bag, a set of toiletries which are completely essential to a person’s needs. Also dried, usable, food goods, sleeping bags, dog food, confectionary and any other essential like warm hats, scarves and gloves.
“Each year we have more and more donations, and everything that we can't use, goes to another charity called 'Open Hands' which is a charity that my parents support and are involved with - they are a compassion centre for the under-privileged.
“We also receive surplus extras like miniature toiletries that we send on to women's refuges to help with their needs.”
Janette wasn’t sure if she could do the appeal this year due to the pandemic as she didn’t think people would be able to make donations as easily but she has been ‘blown away’ by how people have supported the appeal.
She said: “The donations have solely relied on the generosity of our communities in Oadby, Wigston and extended towns that have heard about our appeal and wish to help. This has been completely overwhelming and the support from the local community has really touched my heart.
“It's been a very humbling experience and especially this year with the current pandemic and yet people have still incredibly supported me. Just this morning I received a massive donation from a friend of a colleague, and I was just sobbing when I saw it.
“I’m really thankful to my colleagues and my managers at Central England Co-op Funeralcare for supporting me in the appeal; it has been a huge help.”