St Wilfrid Lodge and Freemasons from across Leeds have been helping to ensure hundreds of children will receive at least one present this year.
In previous years, members of Lodges and side orders who meet in Headingley’s Castle Grove Masonic Hall have been asked to donate a present or money to buy gifts, which were then donated to a number of local charities. However, because the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced the closure of Castle Grove, toy appeal co-ordinator Graham Shiers asked for financial contributions instead, resulting in an avalanche of cash donations in excess of £3000 plus donations of brand new toys and clothing.
Graham , who has coordinated the appeal, said: “The generosity of my fellow Freemasons is just overwhelming, and because of this we are able to increase the list of recipients this year, with The Leeds Children’s Hospital, the Leeds Children’s Charity, the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board, Barnardo’s. Leeds Baby Bank, PhysCap Children’s Charity and Homeless Street Angels now benefitting.
“We’ve been blown away by the donations to date. In addition to toys and gifts we are also buying more practical presents including pyjamas and winter clothing. We are also now helping four families via Homeless Street Angels, including a single dad whose partner killed herself two years ago. He lost his job due to struggling with child care – he has a ten year old daughter and has nothing for her so we’ll make sure she has a good Christmas. Never in all our years of being Freemasons have we been prouder of being members of this wonderful fraternity. Despite all the hardships that Covid has inflicted, not only has the local membership risen to the occasion, it has done so to the power of ten, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”