How a box of goodies made with love is helping to keep spirits high at our home in Plymouth

In the midst of lockdown, a bright yellow box adorned with a sunny smiling face and rainbow motif appeared at Bethany Christian Home, Plymouth. Contained within are small parcels designed to cheer residents’ spirits, beautifully wrapped by Nicola who works as an Activities Co-ordinator at the home. Inside each parcel is a small canvas bag bearing a handmade felted design such as a bumblebee, flower or rainbow. The bags themselves contain small gifts and treats, for example sample size toiletries, bunting scented with rose or lavender oil, tissue holders and laundry bags.


The lady behind the Sunshine Box is Helen Hanchett-Vanes, who used to work as an Activities Co-ordinator at the home, a position she had to give up due to poor health. Since leaving the home, she has maintained strong links with the Bethany family. She regularly visits Pat, a lady with whom she has developed a close friendship. 

When lockdown came, Helen had to shield and visits to the home were no longer possible. Those living at Bethany remained very much on Helen’s mind. When she received the sad news that Pat had lost her son, she created some special gifts to let her know she was thinking of her – a brooch made in the shape of angel wings, and a small terrarium containing a model of an engine house and local landmark Moorswater Viaduct, made with a little help from her husband. To Eileen – another lady she has got to know well – she sent a quiz book. The idea for a Sunshine Box filled with handmade bags and little gifts for all the residents blossomed from there.

“I think I must have sewn for about two weeks straight,” says Helen. “I take joy from the thought that a little gift from the Sunshine Box might brighten someone’s day when they need it. It’s been good for me, too, to have a project to fill the time. It gives me a real sense of satisfaction.”

The residents have loved receiving the gifts saying how pretty and beautifully made they are. They love the little quotes on the gift tags that are attached to them too which are all to encourage. Examples of these are “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream” by C.S. Lewis, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer someone else up” by Mark Twain and “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds” from Psalm 147:3.

Emma Hughes, Manager at Bethany says, “This beautiful Sunshine Box really HAS brought sunshine to our home. It’s amazing what an act of kindness can mean to someone.”

Find out how those living at Dorothea Court have been getting through the lockdown here