Upminster family show true meaning of Christmas with shoebox donation

Haven Hospice shoebox donation

Upminster's Reena Midha and her two children - Arjun and Ava-Lina - collected 200 shoeboxes full of gifts for Haven’s Hospice. - Credit: Reena Midha

An Upminster family have donated 200 shoeboxes full of gifts to Havens Hospices. 

Reena Midha, together with her children Arjun, six and Ava-Lina, three, filled two cars' worth with boxes of items, before delivering them to the hospice. 

The mum-of-two explains the poignant reason behind choosing Havens: "Sadly I lost my father-in-law earlier in the year, so we know just how important hospices are in the community. My son Arjun was the driving force behind it.”

Reena got a list of the most-needed items from the hospice, adding them to an Amazon Wishlist from which people could buy what they wanted to contribute. 

She estimates that around 90 per cent of donations were purchased in this way, before being sent to be wrapped by Reena, Arjun and Ava-Lina.

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Beyond the practical benefits, she believes people felt safer donating in this way.

A positive was that Reena had to update the list four times as people kept buying. Beyond the expected items on the list, such as toiletries, clothing and soft toys, there were some poignant additions. "We also bought Dictaphones (to record end-of-life messages) and pens and paper for writing handwritten letters."

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It is no surprise that Arjun encouraged this gesture. Though only six, he has grown up around philanthropy, having watched his mum volunteer with Hope4Havering over the years.

Every year the family normally do something, such as deliver chocolate Santas to the Tropical Lagoon Ward at Queen's Hospital. But with that impossible in 2020, Reena to proud to see her son encourage an alternative. 

They were estimated to have collected 60 boxes by mid-December, so to arrive at the hospice with 200 is quite an achievement. 

Reena said the staff were touched by the donation.

She said: "After I dropped off the shoeboxes in my car they went to say 'see you later', before I said 'My husband's car is here too'."

She is glad that, despite the disrupted year, her family were able to keep up its tradition of giving first: "Before we receive we have to give."

For further information on the hospice, visit havenshospices.org.uk/.

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