We are nearing the time of the year when we pull out our Christmas decor from the loft and get down to making, or buying, new ones as well.
After each Christmas, many of us are left with decor that's surplus, or in need of mending, and are clueless how it can be put to productive use. So, it ends up either in waste bins or neatly packed and cluttering the house until it’s opened before the next Christmas season.
Each year, COOJ Mental Health Foundation, in Bastora, makes Christmas hampers – using Christmas décor – which is later sold in the open market. Wreaths, lamps, cards, table runners are just some of the pretty items you can find in these hampers.
The hampers are not only frill and fancy, but comprise edibles like Christmas goodies such as cookies which are specially made.
RECYCLE DECOR, REDUCE WASTE
COOJ has already started their drive to collect Christmas decor so they can make these Christmas hampers.
This year, COOJ is requesting the public to donate old Christmas decorations such as pine cones, ribbons, dark red and green wool, buttons and beads.
They are also looking for donations of items like red, green and white paint, glue guns, battery-operated fairy lights, Christmas-themed moulds and cookie cutters.
Neetha Mascarenhas, rehabilitation coordinator at COOJ, says that they accept Christmas tree decorations such as tree hangings, Christmas trees, stars etc. This, she says, helps people donate items which can be put to good use.
PART OF VOCATIONAL THERAPY
Those undergoing therapy at COOJ for various mental illnesses make lovely decorative items from these donated items as part of their vocational therapy.
"We run a social rehabilitation program which is a five-day program, and vocational therapy is an important part of it," says Neetha. "We divide our clients based on their basic skill sets and train them at our centre in Bastora."
FROM NEWSPAPERS TO HAMPERS
Initially, the clients at the rehabilitation program used to make newspaper bags and other items. However, after the Covid-19 pandemic, they diversified to making festival-related hampers like Diwali and Christmas gift baskets.
Neetha says, "We lost our market for newspaper bags after the pandemic. The clients too felt it rather monotonous doing just bags. So, we started teaching them to make hampers. This is the third year since we started."
Creating these hampers is now something that the clients eagerly look forward to because it is not only therapeutic, but also gives them opportunities to earn a remuneration for what they make.
To donate festive décor items or for enquiries regarding Christmas hampers made by COOJ, contact +91 9822562522