The Big Issue

Big Issue XMAS issue

A gleaming white Routemaster bus will be making its way around London this week, laden with 3,500 Christmas hampers which will be handed out free to passers by.

The scheme comes courtesy of The Kindness Offensive — three friends from north London who persuade companies to donate their products to the initiative. Their aim? “To inspire people with random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty”.

Their first act took place in the summer on Parliament Hill in north-west London. The three flatmates set up a desk, asked people what act of kindness they would like and the fulfilled their wishes. Among the beneficiaries was a boy who asked for a red electric guitar and a family of nine who wanted to train with the Moscow State Circus.

People are really pleased to have the opportunity to give

The Christmas bonanza will start at first light on Monday, December 22. Members of the group will drive to Queens Park in west London in a Routemaster decorated with a 4ft genie rising from a hamper. With help from 60 volunteers, the group will spend the morning handing out wicker hampers to churches, youth clubs and passers-by. What are they filled with? “Chocolate cake, cranberry sauce, honey, shortbread biscuits, chocolate raisins and a raspberry liquorice log — anyone who wants one can have one,” says group co-founder David Goodfellow.

To further increase the excitement, selected hampers will contain golden tickets which can be swapped for even bigger gifts, such as televisions, microwaves and blenders.

The next stop is Russel Square, where those on board the bus will drop off some of the many toys donated by companies to Coram, a children’s charity which helps destitute families. “We phone companies up and ask them to donate their products,” says Goodfellow. “The response has been absolutely off-the-hook! People are really pleased to have the opportunity to give.”

Their final act of the day will be to hand out the remaining gifts, estimated at 800 hampers and two tonnes of toys (anything fromm scooters to frisbees) to shoppers at Brunswick Centre in Bloomsbury.

“What’s our message?” asks Goodfellow. “Do something nice for somebody because there’s literally nothing better you can do with your day. Simple as that really.”

(Source: The Big Issue, Daisy Greenwell)


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