A Busy Christmas Ahead For Parish Volunteer Thomas

Thomas Kimaru, Parish and office volunteer gives a glimpse into life as a parcel delivery driver and reflects on the gifts from God.

I have been having a good British moan about the bitterly cold weather, rain, and long hour I put in as I do my delivery job to about 80 to 110 customers every day. Ironically, these parcels are gifts, essentials, medical supplies, food, and absurd purchases.

Some of my customers are happily working at home, others have lost their jobs, a few are screaming at my “poor” service due to emotional breakdowns. Most however emphasize about the weather and long hours and are appreciative that I am keeping their households and businesses alive and working in exceptional circumstances. I get a lot of pleasure to see a satisfied customer get their parcel and smile with their eyes knowing what that delivery will accomplish in that household or company.

thomas Kimaru -office volunteer -March 2020
Thomas Kimaru

Looking to buy a special gift?  CAFOD’s range of World Gifts will delight your friends and family, but are also a great way of rediscovering what it really means to share the love, peace and joy of Christmas.

So as I was planning the things to buy for my wife and family and remembered (from my diary) that I am due for confession every three months. So that you may know, Pope Francis goes to confession every two weeks but hey, I am just a normal well behaved delivery guy driving at 20mph.

It occurred to me that I cannot attend the Sacrament of Penance at confession because we cannot go to Church due to covid 19 restrictions. I remembered  my parish Priest Fr Gregory ,in persona Christi, said that a job or the ability to attend a course for self development is a gift from God! I did not have a job then for about 12 months and Jesus told me a job is a gift from Him.

Browse CAFOD’s collection of Christmas prayers to uplift and inspire

I had gone to confession because I was angry and impatient that though Jesus had heard my earnest prayer, fasting, prayer from friends, and some family members, He was not answering! Now I have a job and I can pay my bills, contribute in Church, buy food for the homeless  and even buy gifts for my wife, family, relatives and silly friends.

For Christmas I will be delivering parcels and looking at my job, food, clothing, shelter, health, family, faith, parish community, good and bad customers, delivery van, uniform, horrible weather, absence of war, tap water, soap, etc. These are all gifts from Jesus. Who am I to look at a gift  horse in the mouth especially if it has been given to me by my creator? Do you moan about what you have, what you don’t have, what you wish you have or all the above choices, a,b, and c?

Somewhere in the New Testament the Apostle Paul says, what can I boast about that I have not freely received from God?

What can you boast of that you have not freely received?  

Please go to confession as I hope to after Church opens and thank God for ALL His gifts including the horrible British weather.

Stay safe and may God bless you

Thomas Kimaru

Parish Volunteer English Martyrs Church

Take a look at the 2020 online Advent calendar for families has a daily reflection and free activity for you and your children in preparation for Christmas.

Southwark Volunteers Share How They Will Celebrate Christmas

As we approach Christmas during a year like no other, we will all be celebrating differently than usual. Restrictions on coming together with family and friends, has meant that many people have had to think of new and innovative ways to mark the Christmas season.  Read about how three volunteers plan to celebrate Christmas

Sophia White, Step into the Gap Gapper Volunteer in Southwark

Sophia in the middle last Christmas

Zoom calls aplenty are the main diary item for this Christmas period. Usually, I would be catching trains up and down the country, so at least this will be a little less tiring. Some of my friends here in Canterbury are planning a post-Christmas Day socially distanced dinner in a field; all I have been told is to bring some food and a chair. Christmas day will include Mass, and dinner with my family. I will also be volunteering with a local homelessness charity, who have done an exceptional job at remaining up and running through these challenging months.

So many people are spending Christmas in refugee camps around the world, could you donate to the CAFOD Advent Appeal  to help families find safe shelter?

Gillie Drinkall, Schools and campaigns Volunteer

Gillie

My youngest child did say on hearing that we wouldn’t be going to church on Christmas morning said, “Does that mean lunch will be on time for once?” Ha, Ha! that will be one Christmas tradition I won’t be breaking!  Otherwise, I am hoping we will be able to have my mother to stay.  She has advanced Alzheimer’s the sole advantage of which she has no idea of what has happened this year.  We will be joining her in not discussing the virus and instead enjoying each other’s company and living in the moment.

Send an online  Christmas message of solidarity to human rights defenders and environmental activists across the world  who are risking everything to defend our brothers and sisters and protect our common home. 

Deirdre McLean, Schools Volunteer

I’m very lucky in that my eldest son took over the Christmas cooking a few years ago so I can be really lazy! Even better he has just bought his own house with his partner so when we have had a lovely lunch I can turn my back on all the clearing up and go back home without having to do so much as wield a scouring brush. There are family members in Ireland Spain and the USA we always try to talk to on the phone and send Christmas wishes to.  Even though they are grown up my sons still get a Christmas stocking every year which they and I really enjoy. Have a great Christmas everyone and here’s hoping for a healthy and safe 2021.

5 Minutes With…Becky Such

We caught up with Becky Such, Individual Giving Executive aka World Gifts Coordinator at CAFOD, to find out what World Gifts is all about, what the most popular gifts are and how your giving this Christmas can make a positive impact in someone else’s life.

Becky is coordinator for CAFOD’s virtual gifts scheme for Christmas

What’s your name? Becky Such

What is your role? I’m an Individual Giving Executive with responsibility for World Gifts, although I often call myself World Gifts Coordinator, as that’s a bit simpler

What is World Gifts? (summary of history/background, who it’s for, aims etc)
World Gifts is CAFOD’s virtual giving scheme. Back when it started in 2003, it was one of the first virtual gift schemes out there. We wanted to find a way for people to tangibly engage with our work and support CAFOD around Christmas, and so World Gifts was born. World Gifts is arguably for everyone – mainly individuals buy them as gifts for their loved ones, but schools and parishes do fundraise to either buy one more expensive gift, or lots of less expensive gifts. Although World Gifts is a fun way to support CAFOD, it’s also a great way to hear about different areas of our work. Even people who work at CAFOD say they didn’t realise some of the things we do when they read a World Gifts case study.

Discover World Gift catalogue

World Gifts is a fun way to support CAFOD

What is the best thing about your role?
My role is so varied. From sourcing new gifts and case studies, to coming up with new ways we can improve World Gifts and actually making it happen each year. Hearing how individuals, schools and parishes have all fundraised – it’s really rewarding that way. I think I’m really lucky having the positive examples of our work that make up World Gifts, the new visuals this year have also been really fun to see and develop with the illustrator! Plus, a big focus for World Gifts is Christmas, and I really love the season, so that’s a win-win really.

Teach Someone to read with World Gifts

What are the most popular World Gifts and why?
The most popular gifts change a little each year, but some of the firm favourites are Teach someone to read, Water for a family and Happy queen bee. The Keep clean kit, new this year, is also proving very popular. I think these gifts are well-liked because they’re easy to understand. Here in the UK we can take for granted having the opportunity to learn to read, or access to clean running water, but everyone can appreciate how vital these are. With the Happy queen bee gift I think partly it’s because it’s our bargain gift, at just £4, but also because everyone loves bees!

Keeping Clean Kit World Gifts

How has the pandemic affected World Gifts this year?
I think people are turning to World Gifts more than they normally would. Perhaps because most of us can’t go out shopping at the moment. Or because many of us have reassessed what’s important to us this year, so a charity gift seems the best thing to give. The website has certainly seen a lot more orders coming through as people turn more and more to online ways to support CAFOD.

From a group fundraising perspective, I think it has been really challenging. We normally send out batches of World Gifts catalogues to parishes all over England and Wales, but with lockdown restrictions, we’ve had to postpone that in England. But I have heard about schools and parishes still managing to fundraise, sometimes converting their usual activities into virtual ones. People have really used their imagination, which is brilliant. And I know people see World Gifts as quite an uplifting thing to engage with at this difficult time.

What have been the highlights for World Gifts this year?
Launching our new look has been a real highlight. Not only was this an immense achievement for everyone involved considering the extra challenges of working remotely, but we’ve also had really positive feedback.

Launching our “Post direct” option on the website. This allows people to provide us with a personalised message which we will print in their card and post directly to their loved one. In a year where there is so much uncertainty around who we will be able to see, I really hope that this option helps people to feel a bit more connected.

Happy Queen Bee Gifts costs only £4

How can we get involved?
Buy a World Gift! You can see the full range at cafod.org.uk/worldgifts or you can order via the catalogue if you’ve got your hands on one of those. Already done that? You could see if anyone in your parish or school wants to fundraise for World Gifts. Or you could just spread the word, whether on social media, in your parish bulletin or just chatting to your friends. We know the more people who hear about World Gifts, the better! I also know that right now is a really hard time financially for a lot of people. World Gifts start from just £4, but they’re also available all year round. So if you can’t buy a World Gift now, you can always do it for another occasion.

If you’d like more information on how to send a World Gift this Christmas, click here.

You can read our official World Gifts 2020 press release here.