Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”
(Dr. Suess, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, New York: Random House, 1957.)
This weekend we are reflecting on the Santa Stork 2015 ‘giving event’ held on Thursday – a special day that left an impression on all involved.
As a result of all your help and support, we passed out gift bags filled to the brim with goodies for 487 children and 295 of their parents – what a result!
The referral sources we work with came and collected the presents they’d requested for the families they support. All the presents were brand new and, in almost all cases, were items that the family or children has specifically requested.
Goods valuing nearly £40,000 left the room in just one day, and they were sent with the very best wishes from everyone involved in supporting the campaign.
It was humbling to talk to the professionals about the difference the gifts would make; professionals who are supporting vulnerable local families all year around. One explained that many of the older children had come to expect very little at Christmas time and always had very modest requests because they understood their family circumstances.
As one Health Visitor explained “The girls these gifts are for won’t be anxious now about going back to school in January. They’ll be able to join in the playground conversation chatting about the lovely things that Father Christmas brought for them – receiving these gifts will make such a difference.”
We had assistance on the day from some of our regular volunteers and supporters, and also had help from the Family Support team from Reigate & Banstead Borough Council who gave up some time from their busy schedules to help wrap and sort presents.
It was touching to hear that some people had even taken a day’s holiday just to help. Some who had done this were the referral sources who we support throughout the year – what a compliment!
Santa hat – check, Christmas jumper – check, ‘elf toolkit’ (scissors, tape and pen) – check! Get wrapping folks….!
One of the first collections – hooray!
It was the first of many, and it was great fun helping to load cars full of lovely presents.
And we didn’t forget those hard-working and dedicated referral sources…we had cards and little treats for them too!
None of this was possible without the support we received from so many:
- All of our supporters who donated online, shopped from our Amazon wish list, or went out and bought a present for specific children. You were all so incredibly generous.
- The health professionals who spent time identifying those who needed extra support this Christmas, and then collecting and distributing the gifts.
- Jurlique UK who sent 428 gift sets (with an RRP of £55 each) that we could pass on as treats for the Mums.
- Everyone from law firm Capsticks LLP who either shopped from the Amazon wish list or donated money as a result of activities coordinated by the Capsticks Choir
- The team at Celtic Contractors Ltd in Morden who were all matched with children and their requests, and provided a van full of gifts
- The parents at Holmesdale Community Infant School who collected presents and stocking fillers.
- Through the LocalGiving #growyourtenner scheme we raised an additional £340 in matched donations and then an additional £5 from #GivingTuesday which effectively meant new presents for an extra 35 children.
- BuzyLizzy Reigate who held a charity open day to support Santa Stork 2015. As well as collecting gifts for mums they also raised £168.36
- The team from First Community Health and Care who collected stocking filler items in their office and passed them on to be included in the gift bags; lovely to have this support from those we work with throughout the year
- InKind Direct and Disney Store UK who gave us 64 lovely Tigger toys from their #DisneyFamily scheme – everywhere we looked today there seemed to be a Tigger staring back! A lovely addition to the gift bags.
- Tim and Annabelle at The Mobile Pizzeria who gave us pizza vouchers to include in some of the gift bags.
- Handa UK who donated a large box of brand new bath products and gift sets for the children.
- The partners at Bailhache Linton LLP who donated money to Santa Stork 2015 in lieu of sending Christmas cards to their clients.
- The collection of gifts from Woodmansterne Primary School in Banstead which was coordinated by Sarah, one of our regular volunteers.
- The kind donation from Thorley Engineering Ltd, Croydon.
- A cheque from the Reigate Soroptimists, a group who support Stripey Stork throughout the year.
- The donation from the students at Orchard Hill College.
- Our friends at Halliwell Marks estate agents (in Reigate) and Walter & Mair estate agents (in Coulsdon) who were so accommodating in allowing people to drop off presents at their offices.
- The talented Shona Gow who produced the Santa Stork Thank You Certificate available to all those who donated online or bought a gift.
- The team at the Holy Family church centre in Reigate who made us so welcome. It was a great venue to work in.
- Karl Hyder – our local man with a van – who helped transport all the presents to the hall; we certainly needed a large van!
- And a very special thanks to Santa Stork team – Jenny, Lauren, Megan, Angie and Margarida – who coordinated the whole campaign so well and made sure the giving day went so smoothly.
The feedback since the event has been great. Messages like this appearing in the Stripey Stork inbox:
“The families of the local area are so fortunate to have such a dedicated and generous group of people who put themselves out to help others. I hope you and all your volunteers can have a rest at Christmas and with your families and can have a warm glow in your hearts knowing that you have helped so many families.”
“Thank you and your team for an amazing Christmas present collection day yesterday, Wendy said the whole process was well managed and thought through. The families we support will really benefit from the kind and generous donations and the gifts will make a real difference these children. Thank you.”
And a lovely card from the children at the local Women’s Aid Refuge:
Merry Christmas from everyone at Stripey Stork xx