During the year individual Groups organise functions to raise money or hold knitting parties and start collecting and making the items that they will be bringing up to St James’ Palace for the Guild’s annual packing week and view day in the autumn.
During the summer months all the Charities on our current list are contacted by the Secretary asking them to send in a list of the type of clothing they would like to receive. To see a list of current Charities click here. Some Charities are very specific in their requests; for example a Hospice would not require any outdoor clothing but might well ask for bed linen and towels, a Charity helping victims of domestic violence would have equally individual requirements.
Warehouse shopping is normally done at the end of January when we are able to purchase winter clothing at a good price. Most Charities that require children’s clothing request good quality warm items and these are expensive. We try to shop as economically as possible. The warehouses we use are kind enough to hold any items we purchase until they can be delivered to St. James’s Palace on the first day of Packing Week and we therefore manage to avoid any storage costs.
All clothing and linen donated during the year arrives at St. James’s Palace on the first morning of Packing Week. Everything is then unpacked and counted for allocation purposes before being distributed to its appropriate stall. There are stalls dealing with Neonatal, Babies, Children 2-5 years, Children 6-16 years, Women, Men, Linen and a wonderful collection called Various which has all shoes, knitted blankets, hot water bottle covers, bed socks, bed jackets, scarves and many other things.
There is a period during the second morning of Packing Week, which we call View Day, when all the members in the Groups around the country can visit to see the mountain of clothing we have collected that year. Many Charities also visit to find out how the Guild operates with a view to gaining a grant from us in future years.
As soon as View Day is over the serious work begins. Presidents and their helpers are given a “shopping list” appropriate to a specific Charity and go round collecting the items they require from each stall. All these garments are then packed in large plastic bags ready for collection by the Charities the following morning.
The whole process we call Packing Week takes two and a half to three days – a busy but worthwhile time for everyone involved. We are so grateful to those who give their time each year to help us pack up all the wonderful clothing we receive.
In 2016 we distributed 28,698 items to 73 Charities in England and Scotland.