ELY crafters have been spreading Christmas cheer by planting gifts for strangers to discover by local landmarks.
Ten local women, all members of the Handmade in Ely Facebook group, were involved in the first mass “random acts of kindness” event carried out in Ely on Monday (December 15).
Handmade goodies, including chutneys, a gemstone bracelet, broaches and a notice board were planted around the town, wrapped in gift paper with a label that read: “As it’s a festive time of year, we thought we’d spread some Christmas cheer, so here’s the gift we thought you were after, handmade with love by a local crafter.”
It ended with the message: “Why not offer a random act of kindness to someone else today?”
Presents were left throughout the city in local landmarks, including the canon in Palace Green, at the back of Ely Cathedral, by the War Memorial, on the Christmas tree in Market Square and in the play park in Jubilee Gardens.
Mother-of-three Jenny Hughes, who runs the Handmade in Ely page as well as her own Needle Doodles business, came up with the idea after reading about individuals abandoning gifts for strangers in America.
She said: “I wanted to do something on a bigger scale – something that would create a big buzz and reach more people, encouraging others to engage in acts of kindness.”
When she mentioned the idea on her Facebook page, she was overwhelmed by the response.
“A whole list of businesses contacted me and within a week we had a team of generous and enthusiastic people ready to go!”
Also involved in the mass gifting exercise were Tali Iserles of Tallulah does the Hula, Sarah Cawthorne of Patchwork Poppy, Becky Frewin of Becky’s Buttons Ely, Emma Sadler of Emma Sadler Photography, Lauren Stapleton-Yearn of Ditsy Daisy, Vicki Fickling of Sock Creations, Kirsty Cooper of Made by Serendipities, Gemma Watson of Cute as a Button, and Lynda Kirby Mattison of Sew Vintage & Modern.
Mother-of-two Ms Iserles said: “Ely was recently voted the country’s kindest city in a poll. We wanted to build on that by brightening up other people’s day through random acts of kindness. We hope it will create a ripple effect where people pass on the love and do nice things for other strangers.”
Many of the recipients have since contacted their prize-givers with messages of thanks – some saying they had been inspired to do other kind acts, such as sharing their gifts with passers-by.
The council and police were contacted before the event for advice and support.
Mrs Hughes said: “The day itself was very exciting and we saw lots of smiles! It was particularly exciting to hear feedback from our finders saying they were planning acts of kindness to pass on.”
The group plans to organise more Random Acts of Kindness in the future. To find out more see www.facebook.com/groups/handmadeinely