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Norwich mother’s mammoth donation is helping families in need prepare for Christmas

Kelly Mendham from Hethersett has been collecting donations of toys and food to hand out to families in need before Christmas. Picture: Roos Mendham

Kelly Mendham from Hethersett has been collecting donations of toys and food to hand out to families in need before Christmas. Picture: Roos Mendham

Ross Mendham

It began with a bedroom clear-out and turned into a mass Christmas donation helping nearly half a dozen families get ready for Christmas.

Kelly Mendham, from Hethersett, has spent the past eight weeks gathering donations of toys and food to give to families in need.

After a string of social media appeals the 38-year-old ended up with half a lorry-full of items donated by other families, which she has delivered around the county this week.

Mrs Mendham said it was her son Oliver who first sparked her festive collection after she asked him to tidy out any old toys from his bedroom to donate to charity.

She got in touch with David Thomas, who runs local a Helping Hands at Christmas group, to see if he would take her home collection – and found herself setting up a Norwich branch of the campaign after appealing to others for toy donations.

“It has been a lot harder than I thought because I thought it would be a few toys, but I have even been delivering today [Friday]. One day I had 15 pick-ups,” she said.
“Me and Oliver went round together. I wanted to instil in him that other children are not as lucky as him.”

After seeing that some of those taking donations may also be struggling for food, Mrs Mendham began putting together food hampers and parcels for families as well as toy donations.

“We’ve helped five families with food and toys, the rest I have taken to places like Norwich foodbank and Sure Start centres,” she said.

Her husband Ross, 35, said he was “extremely proud” of his wife, with the families she has helped describing her donations as “life-changing” and “like a light at the end of the tunnel”.

Mr Mendham said: “She decided to go the extra mile. She would drop around bags of toys for the families, but she would also help support them in getting back on their feet, putting the in touch with support organisations to help them. Kelly has done a marvellous job.

He added: “It is lucky we have a garage because half was literally full of toys and food.”

Mrs Mendham says that she will organise a Helping Hands for Easter collection in Norwich and she plans to do another Christmas collection in 2019 – “but”, she added, “it will be more organised!”

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