Du­vet know it’s Christ­mas?

NEWS NEWS Gabi launches ap­peal for bed­ding to keep the home­less warm over win­ter LOOK­ING BACK

Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - NEWS - By Joshua Smith

A CAM­BER­LEY woman is back­ing a project to help the home­less over the Christ­mas pe­riod by set­ting up a popup do­na­tion point for bed­ding.

Gabi Crosson, who runs her own gar­den de­sign busi­ness, launched the Cam­ber­ley branch of Pil­low in the Park at Heather­side Com­mu­nity Cen­tre on Fri­day ( De­cem­ber 15), along with project founder Spencer Gymer, of Cob­ham.

Pil­low in the Park col­lects un­wanted pil­lows, du­vets, sleep­ing bags and blan­kets then dis­trib­utes them to home­less peo­ple over Christ­mas.

A whole van was filled with around 250- 300 do­nated items at Heather­side last week.

Mrs Crosson was joined at Heather­side by her hus­band Mark and two of their three chil­dren, El­liot, 14, and Zoe, seven, plus puppy Mer­lin. Megan, 17, was un­well but did want to help.

Mrs Crosson said that due to her lo­cal con­tacts and the sim­plic­ity of the project, she wanted to get in­volved, so after clear­ing out her air­ing cup­board of old sleep­ing bags from camp­ing trips, she de­cided to speak to Mr Gymer to launch the pop- up do­na­tion point, so they didn’t go to waste.

“What was re­ally lovely is that it was a com­mu­nity ef­fort,” she said.

“All the schools lo­cally were happy to put it in their news­let­ters and peo­ple thought it was a bril­liant, sim­ple ini­tia­tive.

“At the be­gin­ning of this month it was so cold... you re­ally feel for them. On the streets it is an­other level of mis­ery and must just get you so low be­ing cold and on the streets.

“With my kids, there wasn’t a shadow of a doubt that they wanted to help. That was re­ally lovely.”

Mrs Crosson added that, due to the num­bers of young peo­ple and lo­cal res­i­dents lend­ing their help, she is go­ing to keep in touch with Mr Gymer and pos­si­bly help with the project again in the New Year.

She added: “This is about some­body who started be­ing home­less at the age of 14 – the same age as my son El­liot – and has had a re­ally tough early part of his life.

“This guy { Mr Gymer] has ob­vi­ously bat­tled with some mas­sive things but is so charis­matic and fired and he de­serves this project to work and take off, be­cause he’s so pas­sion­ate about so sim­ple.

“I re­ally want to wish him all the luck be­cause he’s such a nice guy.”

Mr Gymer, 42, a for­mer Toni & Guy hair­dresser fran­chise owner, started Pil­low in the Park to raise aware­ness of home­less­ness, men­tal health is­sues and ad­dic­tion – as he has ex­pe­ri­ence of all three.

He said: “As a young lad I spent time sleep­ing rough on Lon­don streets and de­vel­oped ad­dic­tions.

“Now I want to give some­thing back to the streets. Our first Pil­low in the Park cam­paign is well un­der way and we des­per­ately need Sur­rey’s help in do­nat­ing any un­wanted bed­ding, in­clud­ing sleep­ing bags, du­vets, pil­lows and blan­kets, ide­ally wrapped in­di­vid­u­ally in bin bags and sealed with tape.”

Mr Gymer added that on Christ­mas Eve, Christ­mas it, and it is Day and Box­ing Day he will hand de­liver do­na­tions to the home­less, but wants to keep the project run­ning as long as he can, spread­ing as far across the coun­try as pos­si­ble.

On his Face­book page, he has posted videos thank­ing sup­port­ers of the project and has got Eas­ten­ders star Dean Gaffney be­hind him, who’s also posted a video mes­sage ask­ing for do­na­tions.

Last week, he said a Sur­rey vets has agreed to in­oc­u­late home­less peo­ple’s dogs to pro­tect them from dis­ease. “How fan­tas­tic is that,” said Mr Gymer.

“I’m so proud. Pil­low in the Park is still go­ing from strength to strength and it’s be­com­ing a step­ping stone.”

You can find out more in­for­ma­tion about Pil­low In The Park, and how to help, by vis­it­ing the cam­paign’s Face­book page at w w w . f a c e b o o k . c o m / pil­lowinthep­ark.

Gabi Crosson and fam­ily – Mark, El­liott and Zoe with dog Mer­lin – have started a drop off point to col­lect for Pil­low in the Park founded Spencer Gymer, cen­tre.

Spencer Gymer, from Cob­ham.

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