Everyone at Chelmsford Star Co-op has been enjoying some Christmas fun, but we’re also very aware that there are people across Essex who will be missing out on that festive joy.
To mark the 12 Days Of Christmas, which started on Christmas Day, here are twelve things we’ve been doing this month to try and make sure no one gets left behind.
1. Remembering Those We Lost
The Co-op Funeral Directors held their annual Christmas memorial service at the Old Park Meadow natural burial ground in Great Dunmow, providing support to many left grieving at this time of year. People even tuned in to watch the live-stream from several other countries.
You can watch the broadcast yourself here.
2. Providing food to the elderly
We worked with Hullbridge Parish Council to ensure everyone over the age of 80 living in the village wouldn’t go hungry, by donating bags of Christmas food items. Over 250 bags of food were distributed locally.
You can read more here.
3. Investing in warm spaces
We’ve made donations to groups like the West Thurrock Community Forum (more here) and the Moulsham Lodge Community Trust (pictured) to further improve the spaces they provide local groups like ‘Mens Sheds’ and ‘Knit & Natter’ and the cafe services they provide the community.
4. Celebrating local achievements
For many years, we’ve been proud sponsors of the Pride of Essex awards. This year we awarded two Lifetime Achievement Awards to individuals who have made a huge difference to their local community.
You can read about them here.
5. Honouring departed colleagues
The team in our Stanford-le-Hope store set up a Christmas Giving Tree in memory of much-loved colleague, Sally. Donations were directed to the local foodbank, which was a cause Sally loved to support.
You can read more here.
6. Showing appreciation to retired team members
Our annual Christmas Dinner for retired colleagues was as fun-filled as ever, with quizzes and games accompanying a delicious five-course dinner at the County Hotel in Chelmsford. Memories were shared, stories told and wine was drunk!
7. Giving to those going without
We provided the Galleywood Parish Council with boxes and boxes (and boxes) of Maltesers to give out as presents to care home residents, those struggling financially, and others in the area who might otherwise be forgotten about at Christmas.
8. Issuing grants to good causes
Our Community Fund has donated substantial amounts to six new causes in the last two months; including a school, scout group, church, community hub and even a theatre! You can read about some of the beneficiaries here. Meanwhile, Essex Community Foundation, who manage our fund, awarded £4.4 million in grants across Essex during the year!
9. Christmas Parties for older members
Regular attendees of our fortnightly member coffee mornings in Braintree and Chelmsford gathered for a series of special Christmas lunches and quizzes! For some, it will be the only Christmas gathering and dinner that they’ll get.
10. Instant Discounts to all members
This year we’ve been able to offer all our members instant savings on their food shop, with over £130,000 discounts issued in the first half of the year alone. We added some additional discounts in the run up to Christmas too, just to assist with everyone’s last minute grocery shopping. Did you use your membership card and get your savings?
11. Countless raffle prizes & donations
All our stores have been handing out raffle prizes to assist local schools, community groups, sports teams and churches with their fund-raising efforts, such as Lawford Mead school (representatives photographed). If you’ve won anything at a fete, tombola or local raffle recently, it may very well have come from us!
12. Offering hope
Several of our shops in the Galleywood and Baddow areas have been collecting for the local ‘Hampers Of Hope’ appeal, organised by local Counsellor Richard Hyland. Approximately 40 hampers of food were giving to struggling families in the area, who had been highlighted by schools in the area, to ensure they were able to enjoy a mean on Christmas Day.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks and we wouldn’t have it any other way, but did you know Co-ops like us support the community in similar ways throughout the entire year? It’s the very reason we exist. The more you use our stores, the more we are able to do. It’s what we call The Co-op Difference.
From all of us here at Chelmsford Star Co-op, thank you for your custom over the year. It has meant we’ve been able to help local groups and charities survive and thrive during these challenging times.