One Yorkshire women will be sacrificing her Christmas Day to throw a festive dinner for the homeless.
Margaret Bills, 69, from Pontefract, will be preparing and serving Christmas dinner for guests at St George's Crypt in Leeds.
Every December 25 she, her daughter Sally and her niece, Judith Jones, head to the centre to ensure the charity users can enjoy their Christmas Day.
Mrs Bills has spent the past six Christmases volunteering at the Great George Street organisation. Before that, she helped the homeless at the St Anne's Centre.
She said that Christmas for her will always be at St George's Crypt and she can't imagine spending it anywhere else.
How will you be spending Christmas this year?
I will be putting on a Christmas dinner for the homeless people at St George’s Crypt. Every Christmas Eve, my daughter, Sally, and my niece, Judith Jones, come over to stay at my house. At 9am on Christmas Day, we head out and start to prepare the veg, lay the table, hand out crackers and scatter the sweets and chocolate all over the table.
From about 12 everyone can come in and find a place to sit and relax. There’s a gift for everyone, usually a selection box wrapped nicely and then we’ll serve up the hot food.
When will you be sitting down for Christmas dinner?
We don’t tend to eat there, even though it’s lovely food, but we just tend to have a few cups of tea to keep us going. I’m always the first to start and last to finish so when we get home it’s quite late. Our tradition is a bacon butty, with lots of brown sauce!
On Boxing Day we head down to my other daughter's house in Hertfordshire where we have dinner and all the trimmings.
When will you get the chance to open your Christmas presents?
I’ll either wait until I get back or sneak them open beforehand to see what Santa’s brought! But presents really aren’t my priority anymore. I think it’s more important to think about someone else at Christmas.
These people at St George’s Crypt all have a story to tell and some are simply victims of circumstance. I just like to go and sit with them and have a chat with them, that’s my present. Honestly, I think it means more to me than it does to them.
What’s your festive message to your loved ones?
My festive message is to think about someone else this Christmas and not just what presents you’ve got. It’s good to do something for someone else, it’s really needed and it means a lot.
"St George's Crypt is a really good organisation and like a home from home for these people. Whatever time I can give to help I will and others should try support in any way they can too."
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