It’s at this time of year that Gratitude trustees and volunteers look back at the amazing achievements, support and community initiatives over the past year and look forward to the year ahead.
It is truly amazing and inspiring that the charity runs 100% on volunteers and donations and it’s without these that the amazing services and activities that are provided would not go ahead.
It’s with gratitude and thanks to every single hour, penny and donation that makes up the true magic of Gratitude. As we look back, we honour all who serve our community and wider recipients and give thanks for the privilege and pleasure volunteers receive from giving back through their hard work and dedication.
Awards And Recognition
2023 marks 10 years since founding trustees John and Sheila Carlisle set up Gratitude. In a bid to save food from waste, their mission was to fight hunger and support the local community.
In the 10 years since inception, Gratitude has grown into a vital resource for the community. Providing food, household essentials and meals to hundreds if not thousands of people 364 days a year.
It is estimated the thrice weekly Groceries Giveaway serves an estimated 1,200 people per week – equating to 450,000 meals per year!
Gratitude was honoured in March 2023 with an award for the amazing “Sowing The Seeds Of Love” Mitzvah Day project which manifested as a community multi-faith bulb planting project. The tens of thousands of bulbs blossomed in the spring of 2023 in schools and community spaces to remind us that, in life, what you put in, you get out with interest.
Gratitude would also like to thank Folia Ltd, Jacques Amand Intl. Ltd and Cllr Dan Ozarow for their ongoing support and continuing with this project close to their hearts by providing bulbs for planting in schools and public places.
Gratitude is grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who commit their time to support the running of the Gratitude hub. Without their commitment, essential services would not run. Gratitude currently runs on a base of 74 volunteers who support the Groceries Giveaway, Gratitude’s Kid’s Corner and the Gratitude Creative club. Gratitude is eternally grateful for the team of builders, headed up by Lorenzo, who kindly help with ongoing maintenance projects to ensure the hub is safe and secure and ready for the mountains of donations received from the wonderful community.
Additionally, Gratitude is delighted to host dozens of pupils from local schools who volunteer regularly either as part of Duke of Edinburgh awards or school volunteering programs. Gratitude’s engagement with schools has proved a huge success and they hope this continues going forward.
Gratitude also welcomed many teams of corporate volunteers who enjoy team building through volunteering and helping others.
The Gratitude volunteers are not just public facing, there is a team who give up their time weekly behind the scenes to support the maintenance and management of the charity. From building and maintenance projects, hordes of administration, running social media platforms to running the finance. Hours of copywriting, crocheting, picking up donations from supermarkets, setting up for car boot sales and stalls at various fares, uploading photos to eBay sites. Gratitude would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers for their time behind the scenes as this also provides vital resource through volunteering which is often unseen.
When Gratitude is overrun with donations, they raise vital funds through contributions to their eBay shop and car boot sales, enabling the management team to divert this income stream to funding vital support projects within the charity.
In this way Gratitude ensures that the essential needs of the community are met with a balance of continuing to grow the community and environmental projects run by the charity.
Gratitude would like to take this opportunity to thank all the fantastic volunteers for their dedication to the Gratitude cause, their efforts clearly have life-changing impacts on the lives of so many people.
Gratitude’s Kid’s Corner Team Reflect on a Magnificent Year of Events
In addition to providing the community with essential baby, school and kids clothes, equipment and toys, the creative and inspirational team of volunteers, headed up by Beata, have delivered some exceptional experiences for kids.
Children’s activities provided by Gratitude’s Kid’s corner mean that local kids are blessed with treats and experiences they may not otherwise have. It brings the whole community together to mark holidays and festivities throughout the year.
Here are some of the wonderful memories made by the team:
• An egg-citing Easter Egg Hunt in Maxwell Park,
• A Coronation Celebration Corner fit for a King and Queen,
• A Spooky Halloween Grotto was enjoyed by the community.
• An amazing Santas Grotto was run by the whole team to the delight of over 200 kids.
The team held stalls showcasing Gratitude at various baby fairs, family days, musical festivals and school fetes and Christmas Fairs.
To launch the end of amazing year of giving the Gratitude Kid’s Corner donated presents to patients at the local hospital
Gratitude’s dedicated team of welcoming Kid’s Corner volunteers show so much support for the children, their actions leave a legacy of love, tolerance and community which will surely pass on to the next generation in a positive way.
The feedback Gratitude receives from the community is rewarding and Gratitude appreciates the personal sacrifices their amazing volunteers make to enable these stunning miracles.
Local Business Supporting Gratitude
2023 was an exceptional year with regards to corporate volunteering and support. Gratitude was grateful to be nominated beneficiary by Sky Studios North and the team was invited to an event marking the official opening of the studios by, the now, HRH Duke of Edinburgh.
Taylor Wimpey kindly nominated Gratitude as their charity of the year and raised vital funds through various corporate events including an amazing Staff Golf Day followed by a silent auction dinner.
The staff at Taylor Wimpey presented Gratitude with a giant cheque at their end of year celebrations which left the Trustee speechless!
Hamilton Fraser was inspirational in their support for Gratitude by hosting their annual “Rumble with the Agents” boxing event in support of Gratitude.
Spearheaded by Paul Shamplina, who kindly recorded a promotional video on his visit to the Gratitude Hub. Through their efforts and the showcase event, Rumble with the agents raised a significant amount for Gratitude who are eternally grateful.
Gratitude is truly humbled by the amazing support from all their corporate supporters and through this support we are delighted to be able to support so many more people, families and those in hospital and care homes.
We would like to take this opportunity to express a heartfelt thank you to Mark Wheeler of Folia Ltd for his ongoing support of Gratitude. Their unwavering support of Gratitude at crucial times has meant that Gratitude can continue to support those in need and continue with their mission.
Gratitude also would like to thank:
TAB, ACI Worldwide, Premiere Food, Hays, Taylor Wimpey, Hamilton Fraser, T&T Roofing and Albanwise Insurance for supporting Gratitude through corporate volunteering, funding and promoting throughout the year.
Gratitude Creative Club – A Record Breaking Year of Giving
Through its 14 club members, headed up by Valeria, who knit, and crochet donated reams of wool into wonderful warm clothes and toys.
In 2023 amazingly the team crafted more than 1,000 beautiful and useful items which were shared with the community:
Premature baby ward:
• 71 baby blankets (unisex)
• 40 Baby blankets for girls and
• 40 Baby blankets for boys
• 76 big toys
• 31 small toys
• 143 colourful baby hats
• 104 orange baby hats
• 86 baby sets (containing between 2 + 7 items)
• 19 dresses
• 22 sweaters
• 7 pairs of boots
• 3 ear savers for masks
• 2 breast pads
Aged 1+ children’s ward:
• 36 toys
• 14 blankets
• 2 pairs of boots
Aged 3+ children’s ward:
• 10 pram blankets
• 8 big toys
• 15 Small toys
• 1 blanket
• 43 hats
• 1 pair of boots
• 6 sunflowers
• 13 scarves
• 1 hat
• 76 twiddle muffs
• 106 lap-blankets
• 1 x headband
Children were supported at Victoria ward, Galaxy ward and Starlight Neonatal Unit.
Elderly people and nurses were supported at the Beech ward and Cedar ward.
For Easter the team dropped off the bags of knitted and crocheted items to the hospital and gave chocolate eggs sets to the nurses.
In spring the Creative Club displayed an amazing floral display at the Borehamwood Flower Festival, this year’s theme was ‘Celebration’.
For Halloween the Gratitude Creative Club also donated 5 crates full of bags of sweets to the hospital.
Thank you so much for the amazing knitting and crocheting by the Creative Club, nurses and staff at Barnet General hospital are always delighted to see Gratitude arriving with bundles of beautiful creations.
2023 saw the launch of Project Chromebook at Gratitude, 44 families were helped with not only a donation of a refurbished Chromebook but training on how to get the best out of the device. Gratitude is grateful to Steven Newton for setting up the project and supporting families who would not otherwise be able to afford these essential educational tools.
Gratitude 10 Year Anniversary and Launch of the Gratitude History Book
To mark the 10 year anniversary of Gratitude Charity, Gratitude hosted a number of events to celebrate the amazing work carried out by the team. A collection of the Gratitude history was collated and the Gratitude History Book was compiled, 180 pages chronicling the history in beautiful photos. Each volunteer was presented a history book by the Mayoress of Elstree and Borehamwood Cllr Rebecca Chalice to thank them for their continued service.
As we close the book on 2023, Gratitude stands tall, a testament to the unwavering dedication of volunteers, donors, and the unwavering spirit of community. From humble beginnings a decade ago, the charity has blossomed into a vital lifeline, nourishing thousands with food, essentials, and a warm embrace of human connection. This year, milestones were met, records broken, and lives forever changed, all thanks to the collective power of giving back.
As we step into the new year, Gratitude’s heart beats with the rhythm of a community bound by compassion. The seeds sown in 2023 will blossom into a future where hunger finds no home, and every child knows the magic of a helping hand. Let us walk forward, united in our mission, embracing the joy of giving and the privilege of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Written by Carolyne Klein
Cover photo by Kostas Dimopoulos