Help wanted to give homeless a festive feast this Christmas

The season of goodwill is upon us and now more than ever our thoughts turn to those less fortunate than ourselves this Christmas.

Crawley Open House and the Crawley Observer have teamed up once again to launch Operation Santa in the hopes of giving dozens of homeless people a Christmas dinner to remember.

Staff and volunteers at the Open House have been working for those in need for more than 30 years, offering a helping hand when people fall on hard times.

And, with your help, they can ensure a warm and happy Christmas for people who would otherwise spend the most special of days hungry and alone.

Can you spare a few pounds to provide food for their Christmas dinner? It doesn’t have to be a lot – a bag of vegetables would be warmly welcomed, or a turkey or any of the trimmings.

Open House director, Charlie Arratoon, described the work which faced her team on Christmas Day.

She said: “We will have 24 residents from our hostel, 15 residents from our move-on houses and up to another 30 or 40 people from the day centre sitting round the Christmas table at 12 o’clock on Christmas Day. Without Operation Santa, we couldn’t provide what we do on Christmas Day.

“People will arrive and we will provide a starter, a main course and dessert and all the trimmings that go with that.

“We’re an independent charity and we just couldn’t provide the extent of the Christmas meal without the help of the Crawley Observer and the local businesses who provide the goods on the day.”

Open House trustee Chris Oxlade said: “Christmas is a time Open House desperately needs your support.

“Not only do we have the Christmas campaign, feeding the homeless at Christmas when you can donate vegetables – anything for the Christmas dinner – but also we’re desperate for blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, outdoor clothing. Anything that can support the homeless this Christmas.”

One young resident described how much of a difference Open House had made to him.

He said: “Every time I’ve fallen, they’ve picked me up, ever since I was 18 and I first came here. I’m 23 now and they’ve done a lot for me really.

“It will be my first Christmas in Open House.

“If it wasn’t for people’s kind spirits though the whole year, people like me wouldn’t have a second chance to get back on their feet. When I moved in here I had no clothes but because of people’s donations I have things to wear.”

If you can help, please take your donations along to Crawley Open House, in Stephenson Way, Three Bridges. Let’s help to make this Christmas a happy one for everyone.