Man uses talent to help homeless at Christmas
PUBLISHED: 18:00 14 December 2019
Christmas is a time for giving, and one Norfolk artist has got into the festive spirit by using his talent to help the homeless.
John Etheridge, a freelance artist from Stalham, decided to auction off a print of one of his original pieces in order to raise funds to buy treats for those living on the streets in Norwich.
The artwork - a depiction of Hunsett Mill, near Stalham - sold for £100, which enabled Mr Etheridge, 57, to buy 300 chocolate bars to distribute to the homeless over the festive season.
He said: "I wanted to just give these people something to smile about, and my first thought was to buy them a chocolate bar each, so that every one of them has something to smile about on Christmas Day, even if it is only for 30 seconds."
The former RAF serviceman has wanted to use his artistic talent for a good cause for a long time, but took matters into his own hands after growing frustrated over what he called charity "red tape".
He said: "I've offered my artwork to various charities and told them 'I can't afford to donate to you, but I can offer my talent', and I get the feeling they're wondering what I'm after. I can't believe the red tape you have to go through.
"Then I discovered Food and Beverage Buggies online and got in touch. They were happy to let me auction off one of my prints to raise cash."
Food and Beverage Buggies is a group of people who head out every Thursday to provide hot meals, drinks and sandwich bags to the homeless in Norwich.
Mr Etheridge was delighted when they said they would be happy to work with him. He advertised the auction in several online groups and "nearly fell off his seat" when, after some bidding, one lady offered £100 - enough to buy 300 chocolate bars.
"It's a tiny thing, but it feels so good to do something for people. I am one person with a bit of time and talent and I've achieved this - if we got a bunch of crafters and artists who donated one piece of work each, we could raise £1,000 next year instead of £100."
That is exactly what Mr Etheridge is hoping to do next year - get more people together to make even more of a difference for those in need.
"I'm looking to get in touch with people for next year to auction a load of things off, and maybe then we could even buy clothing or put a roof over someone's head for a few nights."