Easter in Asda
Fund-raising can be done in many ways. Anything from standing on a street corner with a bucket, hoping that someone will put some money in it, to applying for large sums of money from The Lottery. I had always assumed we'd have a go at the latter. I had also thought of a variety of fund-raising events that would would improve our income and our profile. But, rattling a tin (technically, you are not allowed to let it rattle)? To be honest, it had never occurred to me.
So, I suppose it came as something of a surprise, on Easter Saturday, to find myself in Asda in Walsall, along with the wonderful Linda, Phil, Sam, Charlie and a crowd-pulling dog, Maisie, where, for six hours, we stood with buckets in the hope that shoppers would be generous.
And they were generous. Despite a grim economic climate, a huge percentage of the people who passed us stopped to give us some money. But there was far more to it than that.
Throughout the day, people took time out of their busy lives to stop and chat to us. True, many wanted the chance to meet the dog but they all expressed interest in our work too. By the end of the session, we had not only raised over £500 but we had also taken the names of a number of people who were keen to give us practical support, from the six year old ballet student who wanted to come and dance for patients, to a member of the West Midlands Police choir who wanted to come and sing on the wards.
To be honest, I had started the day without much enthusiasm. It had been a busy week, it was freezing and I was still fighting a cold. Given the grim financial headlines a few days before, I was also convinced that few people would have money to spare on a holiday weekend.
But I was wrong. As usual, we were supported by the busiest people. Linda and Phil gave their time so generously, despite having massively hectic lives. Sam and Charlie travelled from Stratford upon Avon to lend their support. Martin, and his team at Asda did everything possible to make us feel welcome. And, despite my frustration by a law that forbade me from 'rattling my tin', the money kept coming in.
Many people who were shopping that day did not appear to have spare cash. Yet so many of them gave us money and pledged support. It was a very moving experience.
By 4.00pm, when it was time to pack up and go home, I felt very uplifted. Standing by an automatic door that opened every few seconds to let in an icy blast and a few flakes of snow, I should have been exhausted and cold. And I was. But, the kindness of strangers had, once again, given me a warm feeling that sustained me for the rest of the Easter Weekend.
Thank you Linda and Phil for your time and fantastic organising skill. Thank you Sam and Charlie for travelling from Stratford to support us. Thank you Maisie for charming everyone who met you. Thank you Martin and the team from Asda for making us feel so welcome.
And finally, thank you Walsall for providing us with a wonderfully generous crowd of shoppers.