“Thank you very much indeed for the amazing activity bags. The children were absolutely thrilled to receive such a thoughtful and generous gift to keep them busy during the holiday. It’s been a long and difficult term for many families in our school community and your kindness is greatly appreciated, it really has made a difference.”
It’s sad to think that the appetite for Stripey Stork activity bags – designed to help combat holiday poverty in our local area – means this is becoming a recurring project for us. Our activity bags are aimed at low income families who often don’t have the necessary ‘boredom buster’ items at home to keep their children entertained. Thankfully, we have the know-how, resources and funding potential to turn projects like this around, as and when they are needed. So, when we were in discussions with those local schools who regularly refer to us and they voiced their concerns over the pupils who rely on school to keep them stimulated – we knew what we had to do!
We set to work sourcing and pricing the majority of the items (a few we were lucky enough to have in stock) which would keep these children busy throughout the holidays. Items such as books, pocket games, bouncy/juggling balls with physical activity suggestions, puzzles, crafts and stationery would be used to fill these colourful reusable drawstring bags.
Bags were to be made up for 226 children – from toddler age to secondary school – so a good variety of stock for each age category was needed. Thanks to volunteer Abbie for doing a fantastic job in immersing herself in this project. We were delighted when she put her hand up to take it on; being Chief Elf for Santa Stork last year meant that toy picking was one of her many specialities.
Around the same time that the project was coming into fruition, we were approached by Russell from Redhill-based financial advisers Matthew Douglas Ltd.. He was looking to make a charitable financial commitment which would have a real impact in helping local families adversely affected by the pandemic. He had come to the right place!
We told him all about the Easter bags project and he was delighted to get behind this. Amazingly, Russell has committed to donating £50 each week (over the next year) for every park run (or park run he would have completed if restrictions allowed). The first six month instalment was made towards the Easter bags project and we couldn’t have been more grateful. Russell was so enthused by what he had heard that he wanted to see the project in action for himself. We invited him to the warehouse to help make-up the bags. He told us how rewarding it was for him to know that he played a part in such a worthwhile project.
Then there’s young Caitlyn, an avid supporter of Stripey Stork who is one of the most kind-hearted 11 year olds we are lucky enough to have on Team Stork. Her Birthday was approaching and she’d already told her Mum that she wanted to use this to help families supported by Stripey Stork. In lieu of presents, she asked friends and family for monetary donations instead. No stranger to big gestures, she already had a plan!
She used the £320 she raised to source and buy new art stationery for 40 of the Easter bags (included in the 226 bags), even packing them herself (attaching these fantastic ‘Art’ labels she designed). They complemented the bags we were preparing beautifully and the recipient children will be equally amazed. It’s made us super proud this month to shine the spotlight on Caitlyn as our Star Fundraiser.
We were also able to make use of a timely donation from Naomi and her daughter. They had some unused party bag supplies from her cancelled Birthday party last year. With so many Birthday parties cancelled, we love how they’ve turned this into a positive by using them to support struggling families so close to home.
A little while ago we received a bulk delivery of end of line stock from Haul & Store, a Surrey fulfilment house whose owner Alison used to regularly volunteer with us before she started her new venture. There were still some items leftover, such as bubbles (what kid doesn’t love bubbles?), which we’d kept aside with this project in mind.
We were kindly given some flyers from the Mayor’s Office about an art competition they are running over the Easter holidays themed ‘Lockdown life – and the future’. See link for details, but needless to say, now that our supported children have the right tools we can’t wait to see the masterpieces they create.
Thanks also go to Nicki from Issie Loves Books, an independent Usborne book organiser, for saving the day after an issue in the supply chain with the age 7-10 activity books we’d ordered. She provided a lovely range of activity books, sticker books, origami and magic painting craft books, going out of her way to get them to us in the nick of time, for a discount price to accommodate our budget.
We have a final, but very deserving thank you to the five schools and two academies who made this all-important Easter bag referral to us.
It really shows how the children are cared for, even when they’ve left the school premises. But, for now their job is done. We hope they have a well-earned rest and find comfort in knowing they’ve made a positive difference to these children’s Easter holidays.
Another project where the stars aligned; thanks to all involved for making this happen. Another one “In the bag” as they’d say.