Charity founder Gemma Lowery says she has been ‘humbled’ after launching a campaign to make Christmas special for homeless people.
The Bradley Lowery Foundation is continuing to bring festive joy to people across the region with its Christmas shoebox campaign.
The foundation is working with the North East Homeless Charity to deliver around 800 shoeboxes filled with the likes of warm clothing and festive snacks to those in need.
Gemma Lowery, who formed the foundation with Lynn Murphy, launched the shoebox appeal in October, inspired by the kindness shown to her son Bradley, who sadly died in July 2017.
Six-year-old Bradley, who lived in Blackhall and was an avid Sunderland AFC supporter, bravely fought terminal neuroblastoma cancer for a number of years.
While fundraising for her son, Gemma was touched by one particular donation made by a homeless man, who placed his last bit of change into one of their buckets.
That act of selflessness inspired the charity’s campaign to create Christmas gifts for homeless people and their animals, women in refuges and children in care.
Members of the public have donated the boxes which are packed full of little treats to cheer up those less fortunate during the Christmas season. The shoeboxes are now being distributed to those in need across the North East from Middlesborough to Newcastle.
Gemma said the response to the appeal had been ‘amazing’ and said she plans to hand out shoeboxes on Christmas Day morning along with husband Karl, friend Lynn Murphy - the foundation’s head of communications and fundraising and Lynn’s daughter Anna.
Gemma said: “I have found it humbling.
“It is really nice to be able to be part of something that is going to make someone smile this Christmas. “I am still finding Christmas difficult, last year I didn’t acknowledge Christmas and we went away.
“But this year I am taking the bull by the horns.
“I am throwing myself into things and want people to smile this Christmas, which has been helping massively. “I want to go out on Christmas morning and give out the shoeboxes.
“Christmas is about doing and having people around you.
“Then we will be going back to family and friends who will be coming round and I will be able to enjoy the rest of the day knowing I have given back to the less fortunate.”