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We are YMCA society! We were set up a few years ago to provide a link between the fantastic work of YMCA Exeter and the students of the city. We aim to support the YMCA through fundraising and events like this. In addition, we are building contacts all over the city, working to place students in meaningful volunteering in Exeter's homeless community.
Our project intends to supercede a previous event this society ran. Last year, YMCA Society, in collaboration with JustLove and the wider student body, ran an event to produce ‘shoeboxes’ of luxury christmas presents for 51 residents of the YMCA, who would otherwise receive little to nothing on Christmas Day. The event was a 'wrapping' event and included a quiz, a talk from a staff member at YMCA Exeter, and live music. The boxes were emphatically received at the YMCA.
The 51 residents (not including those in further supported housing projects) are a group of wonderful, diverse men and women between the ages of 16 and 25. Residents often come from challenging backgrounds and may not be spending Christmas celebrating. In fact, for those from broken homes, those with severed family relationships, and those struggling with seasonal depression, Christmas may be the hardest time of year.
That is why we, a group of students, want to produce a luxury gift box for every resident at the YMCA. By doing so, we hope to bring some joy on what may otherwise be a tough day.
Money raised will help us purchase items for our wrapping event and fill the shoeboxes, rather than donations being given directly to the YMCA. We want to support local business and ethical shopping to align with our principles as a society. Any donations provided to us through this crowdfunding platform will go directly on purchasing gifts from local retailers in Exeter, often from Fore street retailers and the Christmas market. From £1 to £100, every bit of money helps and will go towards bringing joy to those who need it most.
We are a small society with an even smaller budget. Last year, we relied on the donations of students with good hearts but not enough knowledge of the needs of the YMCA residents. As such, the gift boxes ended up often being somewhat lacklustre in the gift quality. We want to bring joy to a vulnerable group of people in Exeter and hope to do so by really giving them something special this Christmas!
An image from last years event, with participants chooseing how to fill their shoebox!
This year we hope to produce more shoeboxes of higher quality. If we end up with excess boxes then these will be given to the Junction, the winter homeless shelter in Exeter.
Here is YMCA Soc Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ymcasocexe/?hl=en (see our past stories for a summary of last years event!)
And the Just Love Exeter Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/justloveexeter/?hl=en
Let's bring joy this christmas!
If you are interested in helping out more, please share our event around and come along! Friday 6th December, 7PM onwards, Forum Exploration Lab #2.