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Businesses bring less fortunate a better Christmas

Bankside businesses, along with local residents and students, have dug deep and donated hundreds of gifts to charities supporting the aged and homeless of Southwark in the run up to Christmas.

Locals were encouraged to "Bring and Buy a Better Christmas", an initiative run by Better Bankside. The gifts will be donated to homeless charities Broadway, Hopton's Charity and The Manna Centre, as well as charities working with the elderly, Lucy Brown House and Age Concern Southwark.

Hundreds of gifts, as diverse as scarves, books, toothbrushes, luxury chocolates, tins of salmon, thermal vests and Christmas puddings were donated, principally by the generous Southwark business community. Gifts were wrapped on Wednesday at King's College, on St Thomas' Street, by volunteers from Southwark Council, local businesses, as well as students and staff from King's College, London.

The gifts have been sorted into two sections: practical gifts for homeless people, such as toothbrushes, warm socks, teabags, books and non-perishable food; and gifts for older people, such as chocolates and toiletries. They will be distributed over the next week to the charities to help liven up Christmas for less fortunate people in Southwark.

"The generosity of the Southwark community astounds us every year," says Astrid Lovelace, business volunteers manager at Volunteer Centre Southwark. "This initiative has been running for two years, and this year's haul of gifts easily exceeds what was collected last year. We are really pleased at the response from King's College students and staff, as well as Southwark Council volunteers who have generously donated their time as well as all the materials needed to wrap the gifts."

"Bankside is a wonderful place in which to live and work and this has been a great example of businesses and the community coming together," says Peter Williams, chief executive of Better Bankside. "We hope that, through working alongside other organisations that have invested their efforts, we have managed to raise awareness of how Christmas can be a difficult time for less fortunate people and bring them a little comfort."

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