Princess Alice Hospice

For very many years now, ever since I left home in fact, I have been regularly taking carrier bags full of books, clothes, "stuff" and "bric-a-brac" down to various libraries, charity shops and hospitals. Funnily enough my place of residence never gets any emptier, but I do try to stop it getting fuller.

After many years of this Sisyphean activity, I was accosted last month (in my post-Christmas clear out mode)  in the Princess Alice Hospice shop in Kingston, when dropping off a bag of (what I thought to be) a rather saleable suit, some books, a pair of shoes and some outgrown children's cardigans. "Ah, rumbled", I thought – as the shop is always groaningly full, and I'm surprised that they seem grateful for my humble offerings.  "They are going to say they aren't taking more donations. I'll have to walk round to Oxfam or the Romanians round the corner instead."

To the contrary, the gentle older man in the shop asked me if I was a taxpayer, then provided me with a gift-aid form for my donation, which I duly filled in. He then gave me a card with a bar code on it, and asked me to show it if I made any future donations. I've made two more carrier-bag drops since then, as a matter of fact, each time digging out my card from my purse and seeing it scanned in.

Thinking no more of this, I came home from work today to receive a letter from the "Retail Director" of the Princess Alice Hospice. In it, he tells me that my recent donations have raised £104.00 for the hospice, which with gift aid is increased by 28 per cent. Obviously for bureaucratic reasons, he has to suggest that I donate this money to his hospice. If I don't respond to his letter within 21 days, that's what he will do, and claim his extra 28 per cent. I do not plan to respond.

Isn't that marvellous? Three carrier bags of not-very-useful to me, but perfectly clean and serviceable household items, have gained this worthy local organisation £130. If I manage to keep up my average throughout the year, I'll have made them £780. Great stuff – this can actually make a difference to their work, and I feel that is is actually worth scouring the house for things people have not used for a few weeks, in the secure knowledge that they will be put to good use and go to a good cause, rather than my previous sneaking suspicion that they would end up as landfill.

6 thoughts on “Princess Alice Hospice

  1. I love this, Maxine. Good on you and good on them. Just at the moment, there is not much I cannot relate one way or the other to this catastrophic global situation we are in, the fallout from which involves collateral dangers that may in a way be worse than the purely economic. And this morning, of course, I was reading about that RBS man, whatever the hell his name is, and his goddam pension. Then, at such times, one comes across people who do a simple kindness, a mitzvah, as you have done, and others who take that kindness and multiply it by their own, and from this may come all manner of good things. It reminds us, and this is why it is so timely, of what is still possible in those few remaining spheres not governed by the dynamics of greed, power, and the ego. But they are few and, as Norman knows only too well, they are not necessarily where you might expect to find them, even certain charities now transformed into soulless corporations, so it is at bottom always up to the individual.

  2. Please don’t get me started Philip.
    While extra layers of management are created with large salaries by a certain organization, other workers [the people who do the real hands on care] face redundancies at a time of deep recession.
    At least there are still a few good people around like Maxine.

  3. Ahh, thanks, Norman. Not good enough, I am sure, but I do my best. As many people do.
    I think “top heavy management” and “not enough people to do the actual work” is a very common problem. Particularly these days, as so many organisations, even worthy ones, “outsource” essential functions like dealing with enquiries, customer service and maintenance of products to impenetrable places…..but I am veering off topic I fear! Thank you both for your thoughtful comments.

  4. I’m pleased it seems to work, Maxine. We acquired some Oxfam number stickers recently, and I’ve now got three enormous sacks blocking passage through the house. Hopefully someone will take the hint.

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