I couldn’t let today pass without writing a post about love. Perhaps disappointingly though this isn’t about how much I love my husband (a lot) or how I find it a bit odd that I received a valentines card from my daughter. Or even about the commercialisation of a day about love and how people love to hate it or love it or just don’t care. It’s not even about how much I love an excuse to drink prosecco. No, this is about the love I have experienced and been able to share in the last year.
It’s one year exactly since I received the first funding I had applied for to start a charity to help families in my town. I quickly made a website and set about working out how I could turn my idea into reality. The idea is pretty simple – collect donated baby and toddler clothes, toys, furniture and equipment from people who no longer need it and give it to people who really need do.
It has been hard, incredibly hard, work. First Days has grown and grown and grown and this weekend we are moving into new premises so we can support more families. I have big, big dreams and ambitions for First Days. It’s such a cliche, but the hard work is completely worth it. Showing people unconditional love, in a practical way which really helps their family, is priceless. To me, it is what life is about. Sharing love with complete strangers is what makes the world go round. I don’t really know what I believe about God or religion or faith or anything but I love the end of Les Miserables when Fantine, Eponine and Jean Val Jean sing together ‘remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is the see the face of God’. I love that love is bigger than we are as individuals – love can bind people together in a deep way. It’s the deeper magic.
We have collected over five tonnes of donations, from individuals and businesses, and helped over 150 families so far with the big and small. A couple of families stand out in my mind. One was a family who lived, all five of them, in one room. The children were just lovely and I delivered a van full of things that they desperately needed. As we were carrying it in to the house the mother was crying, she said she couldn’t understand how people could be so kind to strangers. I was heartbroken though. There were so many problems that we couldn’t solve for them – but at least their children had beds, some clothes and shoes and toys. I hope they remember the love I showed them through First Days.
Another family had a little baby who was very ill in hospital – illness that was probably caused by the damp conditions in her home. When this family was referred to First Days it became clear that they needed a mattress for the baby to sleep on in a cot we could deliver, they had been rehoused and couldn’t take any of their furniture with them as it was all ruined by mould. We don’t pass on old mattresses though so I was a bit stuck. They needed it that day. I turned to twitter and two people who I have never met, are not local, and obviously did not know this family donated the money to buy a mattress, sheets and blankets. Their love and generosity enabled First Days to give a baby a safe bed.
That’s the kind of love I want to celebrate. Every day.