Having to cope with all that lockdown brings, parish volunteer Ann Smith from St Augustine’s parish in Milton Keynes shares what she did to make the most of it and still support CAFOD’s Coronavirus appeal:
“We were saying one evening recently that it was a shame that our church music group couldn’t have its usual bring-a-dish-lunch which was customarily held in someone’s house in July. We went on to bemoan the many effects of COVID-19 on parish life; how we can’t meet and greet friends, can’t socialise, can’t sing and can’t even launch the CAFOD coronavirus appeal in church, given that only a small number of people are now attending Sunday Mass.
Then we hit on the idea of inviting the music group to afternoon tea in our garden. It was a way of seeing each other and also raising funds for CAFOD’s Coronavirus appeal.
We are both keen gardeners so we knew people would enjoy spending some time not only chatting and relaxing but looking at the various plants in bloom. This we could manage while observing social distancing. So we emailed our 20 member music group and got lots of positive responses. Some who couldn’t make it said they would still donate. The date was set for Sunday 26 July, flowers all told to be on their best behaviour and weeds banished. We set up a JustGiving page as well for those who wanted to donate online. This was very easy to do via the CAFOD website.
We wanted the occasion to be an opportunity also for people to learn something about how CAFOD is responding to the challenges of coronavirus. So we identified some of the plants in our garden that were natives of countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America and found information on CAFOD-supported coronavirus responses in these countries and placed them beside each plant. For instance, dahlias hail from Central America, so a sheet beside our dahlias told of coronavirus responses supported in Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Agapanthus thrives in Southern Africa and Cannas in East and West Africa, while Stargazer lilies originate in Asia, so sheets placed strategically beside these plants told visitors about CAFOD-funded coronavirus responses in refugee camps in Asia and East Africa, as well as those in communities in Zimbabwe, DRC, Cambodia and more.
Between us we had prepared a wonderful selection of sandwiches, baked goodies and cold drinks that were set out in our conservatory. People wandered around the garden enjoying the various flowers that were indeed on their best behaviour and reading the CAFOD information they occasionally encountered. We chatted, had far too much of the delicious food and drinks, and just enjoyed seeing each other again and catching up on news.
The afternoon was a lovely occasion of friendship and of solidarity with the work of CAFOD. The event raised £350 so far.
Some of the comments people left say it all :
“CAFOD is one of my favourite charities, that I trust are making a real difference” Ka-yee
“A lovely afternoon. Hopefully we’ll meet soon again” Sally
“Fantastic way to support your chosen charity, while having a lovely afternoon tea with friends” Frances and Tony
What a wonderful way of doing something positive and supporting the appeal. Well done to the organisers. A very novel way of sharing CAFOD’s work! and to those who contributed. You are really making a difference in people’s lives.