By Connor Steel
COMMUTERS visiting Fareham Train Station have been encouraged to help South Western Railway (SWR) staff and organisers through their annual Christmas Shoebox Appeal, aimed at helping vulnerable and homeless people during this upcoming Christmas / New Year period.
From this morning (December 6) to Saturday evening (December 11), users of Fareham Train Station amongst others on the Hampshire network are invited to prepare a small shoebox of gifts, or just a single present to their 2021 campaign across their travel routes.
Similar appeals during the 2020 pandemic yielded an amazing response, seeing mass donations of 750 shoeboxes for homeless people and 630 individual gifts across the network. With increased footfall and festivities likely this year as Christmas approaches SWR are hoping to beat this record again this winter.
A large box can be seen within the entrance to Fareham Train Station with shoeboxes or gifts able to be placed inside; but if commuters want to hand them to SWR staff they will be available throughout the week accepting contributions.
Gifts ideas could include essentials such as warm gloves, food and drink with long sell-by dates or simply a fun Christmas themed activities. If contributors are concerned or need guidance they can talk to staff around the station.
All donations will be collected across the network on Sunday (December 12) before being handed to a selection of nominated charities. Staff will also be working alongside agency partners Adecco Rail and SMT to help boost this campaign.
Portchester and Cosham staff have confirmed they won’t be part of this appeal that includes a total of twenty five train stations; although stops such as Winchester, Southampton, Swanwick, Fratton and both Portsmouth hubs are participating.
Jim O’Brien, Station Contracts Manager for SWR, who is coordinating the appeal, was delighted to announce the campaign officially open for 2021; saying in a press release on behalf of the company that owns a number of Hampshire stations:
“We know that local charities based in the communities around our stations provide vital support for the vulnerable and the homeless all year round, but the holiday season is an especially difficult time for so many. We hope that people who live near and travel from participating stations will donate what they can and help the less fortunate this Christmas.”
PICTURED: South Western Railway train