Collecting crisp packets for a good cause

Written by Josie Turner, Northfleet District Commissioner and Leader, 1st Springhead Park Rainbows & Brownies

Living in Kent, I have naturally heard of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance, but I didn’t think too much about it although I had fundraised for them in the past.

It was one summers day three or four years ago that I heard on the radio that the M25 was closed to allow the air ambulance to land on one of the carriageways to assist with an accident. I still didn’t think too much about it until I saw a post by my cousin’s daughter on Facebook saying that she had heard on the radio that the air ambulance had landed on the M25 but didn’t at that point realise it was her mother - my cousin - who had been involved. It’s amazing how quickly information reaches Australia, where she lives! The doctor on board was excellent in keeping my cousin calm while she was cut out of the car and he helped assess her injuries and gave her pain relief. She didn’t go in the air ambulance but was taken to a local hospital by road ambulance with, unknown to her at the time, three broken vertebrae.

Every time I have seen the air ambulance flying overhead I have a flashback to that day and wonder who is needing their help this time and praying that those involved are not badly hurt.

It was in June this year that I saw an advertisement on Facebook to collect empty crisp packets to raise funds for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance. I thought that this would be something that my Rainbows and Brownies could do, especially with the summer break coming up.

I then heard that there are other units in Thames division, within Kent West county, also collecting them - Milton Rainbows and 2nd Milton Brownies. They set their Rainbows and Brownies the challenge of collecting 25 empty packets during the summer holidays, which most girls achieved. When their leader took them to a collection point she was told that they had raised £57 which the girls were over the moon with. I didn't give my girls any numbers, just told them about the air ambulance and asked them to collect as many packets as they could.

Another unit in my county, 2nd Swanley Brownies in Swanley district and Dartford division was also collecting them in my county. They have been collecting them for a while too and their Rainbow leader, Mandi, who is saving packets for them, suggested that I contact region to see if we could do this on a larger scale. The Kent, Surrey and Sussex counties are all served by the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance and all border the notorious M25, which is a large part of Girlguiding London and South East England region.

I heard recently that the silver inside the packets are used to make the foil wraps that are used in accidents and at certain sporting events such as the London Marathon. In this case, they all go to the air ambulance.

At the moment I have had to turn my car into an estate with the back seats put down for some time to make room for three very large black bin bags bursting at the seams, together with carrier bags full as well. My car smells like a crisp factory and although my husband is tolerant to me taking most guiding things into the house I do think he would object to the smell of crisps all over it.

I am hoping to arrange for UPS to collect them from my house shortly, although I don’t think they will be able to let me know how much money was raised like they do when you take them to the collection point. When I signed up to take part there was a choice of taking them to a collection point or having UPS collect free from my home.

Before we broke up at the end of the autumn term I told the girls in 1st Springhead Park Rainbows and Brownies that we were going to stop the collection now and most shouted that they wanted to carry on. This is an ongoing fundraiser so I agreed that we would make it continuous.

The girls also used the crisp packet collections as part of their Future Girl Acts activities! They placed the crisp packets in lines and laid down next to them to illustrate how many Rainbows and Brownies-worth of waste there was! They then talked about how many crisp packets it takes to be equivalent to the length of sea creatures.

Looks like my car is going to be smelling like a constant crisp factory!

— Josie, leader
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