Oatlands Community Group beats January blues with new project

Hundreds of pounds worth of donations were collected for Happy January.
Hundreds of pounds worth of donations were collected for Happy January.
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One of the most proactive community groups in the Harrogate district is celebrating the success of a project tackling the notorious January blues.

Oatlands Community Group launched 'Happy January' to encourage us to think of others this Christmas, by putting together an alternative advent calendar for the Harrogate Homeless Project and the Harrogate food bank.

Just some of the generous donations received.

Just some of the generous donations received.

Instead of a traditional advent calendar the group invited people of all ages to decorate a box and place a special item into it each day throughout December.

The group collected all of the donations at their TUKI community cafe on January 7.

Oatlands Community Group member Victoria Smith-Dunn said: "We were totally overwhelmed with the support that we received. We took in all kinds of donations from warm clothes to food and household essentials.

"We took a large car full of boxes to the Harrogate Homeless Project and anther car load full to the Harrogate food bank and donated a great deal more to a women’s refuge.

"The age range of donors varied, and many people with young children said that they had enjoyed participating as it was a great way to demonstrate to their children the art of compassion and giving at Christmas.

"We must have received hundreds of pounds worth of donations and it is definitely an event that we will be repeating.

"Next year we would be keen to be a collection point for any groups that will happily promote the idea or fill a box like St Aelred’s did, and we will be the point of collection and deliver the donations on their behalf."

Liz Hancock, Chief Executive of the Harrogate Homeless Project, said: "The Harrogate Homeless Project has been helping homeless people in the district for over 25 years now and it is fantastic to have the support of the local community.

"Oatlands Community Group has made a real difference by supporting us with their Happy January event. Through their reverse advent calendar the hostel received vital donations.

"It is great to see how the group is raising awareness about the work we do with some of the most marginalised people in our community, and we would like to thank everybody that participated and donated to us through Happy January."

Dee Swales from St Aelred’s Irish Dance group organised a collection and filled a happy January box with donations from her dancers.

Dee said: "'At St. Aelred's we are keen to support the local community wherever possible and the Happy January advent idea was a fantastic way to do this.

"I am sure that the donations will be gratefully received by those in need of a helping hand in what can often be a tough month.

"I'm glad so many of our dancers got involved, donated and have helped to support what was a fantastic idea."