A WEARSIDE community is showing charity begins at home by helping make Christmas brighter for vulnerable youngsters.
Staff from Academy 360 and members of the Pennywell Residents’ Group have created boxes of gifts and treats for 17 pupils who they know will have a difficult time this Christmas for a number of different reasons.
Jill Dawson, adult and family learning manager at the school, said assistant head, Claire Cuthbert, came up with the idea and the response from the community has been overwhelming.
She said pastoral heads of years 7-11 were asked to nominate the students they felt would benefit from the scheme and all the gifts have been collected in, wrapped and will be delivered to the children.
Housing company Gentoo, which is one of the academy sponsors, has also donated a gift voucher for each of the pupils.
Jill said: “We have been blown away by the generosity of everyone involved. People have been going out and buying all sorts of things such as hair straighteners, jumpers and T-shirts.
“It really shows the community spirit within the school and the Pennywell area is alive and well. It has been lovely to be part of it.”
The Pennywell Residents’ Group, which is made up of academy parents and other members of the community, along with lots of staff members, wanted to ensure the children knew they were being thought about at Christmas and hopefully the boxes of presents and sweets will give them a boost during the festive period.
Jill said: “While most people are getting into the festive spirit and looking forward to Christmas, we know that for some of our children it won’t be the best of times. Some children have had a tough time of it and for some school is a haven.
“We just want them to know that we do care about them and that they are not forgotten as soon as the school doors close.”
Sir Ken Gibson, executive headteacher at the school, said: “I would like to thank everyone who has contributed towards the fabulous gift parcels, all of which will go to very good causes within our community.”