Charity launches rucksack appeal to give Leeds homeless a gift this Christmas

Leeds charity Homeless Street Angels has launched its annual rucksack appeal to donate festive gifts to rough sleepers in Leeds.

Saturday, 30th November 2019, 11:45 am

Families gathered to wrap presents at the launch event, held on Friday night at the Lord Darcy Pub in Alwoodley, which will be donated to rough sleepers on Christmas Eve.

People have been donating to the appeal over the last few months, sponsoring a rucksack full of gifts such as aftershaves, perfumes, chocolates and beauty products.

Sisters Becky and Shelley Joyce launched Homeless Street Angels two-and-a-half years ago after the death of their younger sister Abi, who died aged 39.

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Shelly and Becky Joyce and Fiona Willis from Street Paws at the gift-wrapping event

The street angels deliver 100 hot meals a week to people living on the streets in Leeds and Headingley, as well as blankets, toiletries and other essentials.

This year, the charity has teamed up with Fiona Willis from Leeds charity Street Paws to make doggy rucksacks as well as the Christmas gifts for rough sleepers.

Each rucksack will include a personal note inside, with the name of the person who sponsored it.

Becky said: “It makes it more personal for the people who want to help out, and for the guys on the street. Someone is giving it to them with love.

Volunteers will donate the rucksacks to rough sleepers in Leeds on Christmas Eve

“They are so excited to see that someone actually cares for them and has bothered to wrap presents, rather than just giving them a box of chocolates on the street.

“So much more thought is put into the rucksacks and every present we’ve picked personally."

Dozens of families joined the gift-wrapping event at the Lord Darcy Pub, with crafts for children and Christmas carols playing while volunteers individually wrapped each present.

Becky said: “It gets busier and busier every year. There are Christmas carols playing, everyone is singing away.

“It’s an amazing community event for the whole family which has got bigger every year."

Around 50 volunteers will head out to Leeds city centre, Hyde Park and Headingley on Christmas Eve, donating the rucksacks and chatting to rough sleepers before Christmas.