“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” – Charles M. Schulz
Our Santa Stork campaign really does get more extraordinary every year. This year was our fifth and the Giving Day was an incredible event. Here’s a sense of what it was all about, and some special thanks to those who played their part in making it happen.
Since October we have been building up to Giving Day, which was held on Monday 10th December this year. It was an early start for #TeamStork. With the help of ASD Transport, Karl AKA “man and a van” and our reliable team of volunteers, all the gift bags were moved from storage to Reigate Baptist Church where the real fun was about to begin.
All the presents were brand new and, wherever possible, what the children or their parents had requested on their behalf. No sibling was left out and if the referral source felt like the parent/carer could really do with a boost this Christmas, then they were also included.
We had wrapping stations setup around the hall, with lots of our regular volunteers, community groups and corporate teams who have helped us throughout the year. It was a bustle of activity, with Christmas jumpers as far as the eye could see.
Christmas songs were playing and mince pies kept everyone fueled.
To give you an idea of how busy it was, here’s a time-lapse video from the beginning to the end of the day, which is exhausting just to watch:
The referral sources who work directly with the families we were helping this Santa Stork, came and collected the presents throughout the day. Although we don’t get to see the parent’s gratification first hand when they are handed the bundle of gifts, the referral sources do and we feed off the feedback they share with us from previous years and the stories of some of the families who are about to have Christmas ‘made’ for them. It really is humbling to be part of this special day.
Emma from the Reigate & Banstead Women’s Aid refuge explains what Santa Stork means to the families they support:
We caught up with Sarah and Ellie from Children’s Hospital at Home in Croydon:
Sarah added: “Without Stripey Stork I don’t know what we would do. Many of our families are in temporary accommodation and have no access to public funds because they are waiting for their visas, which means they can’t even afford the basics never mind Christmas presents. Thank you Stripey Stork for everything you do all year round and especially at Christmas time when so many of the families we help would have nothing to celebrate.”
We set up a Christmas tree in the hall and throughout the day it was covered in messages of thanks from our referral sources.
We welcomed the Mayor of Reigate & Banstead, it was lovely that she was part of the day so she would see for herself the front line work which we are doing.
The difference we are making
This year we set ourselves a target of giving 1500 presents to local children in need and 750 of their parents/carers. There are still a lot of late requests to deal with, but on the day – thanks to your generosity – we have been able to give gift bags filled with presents to:
730 of their parents/carers
That’s an estimate of goods valuing over £45,000!
[UPDATE: including the last minute requests we were able to give out gift bags for 1517 children and 828 of their parents/carers, that’s an estimate of £50,000 in value]
It doesn’t escape us how bittersweet this message is. Every year we predict a rise in requests and sadly this has so far been the case:
Santa Stork 2017: 1040 children/438 adults
Santa Stork 2016: 767 children/370 adults
Santa Stork 2015: 487 children/295 adults
Santa Stork 2014: 146 children/56 adults
But Santa Stork has a fantastic team of supporters behind it so we are able to rise to this challenge.
We have an extensive referral contact’s database, a mammoth spreadsheet and the best Chief Elf (Lauren) which Santa could wish for, and not forgetting her hardworking and enthusiastic team of elf volunteers.
A big thank you
Here’s a shout-out to all those who have made a special contribution to this campaign.
- All of our supporters who have donated online, shopped from our Amazon wish list, or gone shopping and bought a present from our suggested gift list. Your generosity is immense – Thank you!
- All of our wonderful referral sources who made requests for the families they support, and then collected and distributed the gifts.
- Cllr Barbara Thomson for her Surrey County Council Community Grant which contributed to the rent of the storage space we needed to run the project.
- The Mayor of Reigate & Banstead for coming along on Giving Day to find out about our charity and Christmas campaign, and being part of this special day.
- In Kind Direct and Disney Store UK for the 48 Mickey Mouse soft toys, donated as part of their #GiftMagic campaign.
- Le Toy Van for donating nearly 1000 brand new Budkins – high quality wooden figures for our gift bags.
- Andy Nash and the team at the Belfry for helping on Giving Day. Also including us to benefit from the Santa’s Grotto charity donations, providing gifts for Santa Stork, donating £140 vouchers to purchase last minute gifts from the Belfry, and allowing us to be at the Greatest Show Christmas lights switch!
- The Saccone Joly family for donating 400 A Friend of My Own dolls – cuddly, soft and suitable for all ages.
- Celtic Contractors Ltd who’ve been involved every year so far, with staff purchasing gifts from their own Amazon wishlist.
- The Communications Team at Grant Thornton International who purchased gifts from their own Amazon wishlist.
- The Social Media Team at ASOS, who had their own Amazon wishlist, instead of doing Secret Santa.
- ITW Construction Products who bought gifts and stocking fillers from their own Amazon wishlist and from our suggested gift list.
- The IHS Markit team in Coulsdon who bought items from our Santa Stork Amazon wishlist.
- Fidelity who bought items from our suggested gift list.
- JLT who bought items from our suggested gift list.
- Total Gas & Power who bought items from our suggested gift list, and their charity committee matched with a donation of £180.
- The Fix Auto team in Crawley, who did an inhouse collection of presents from our suggested list.
- Busy Lizzy Reigate for arranging gifts from our suggested list to be collected.
- Gipsy Hill Brew who held a Christmas event where they collected gifts from our suggested wishlist.
- The families at Banstead Infant School who donated an amazing £608.46 by collecting money after the school Christmas performances.
- The parents at Holmesdale Community Infant School who collected stocking fillers.
- Hazelwood School in Oxted who raised an impressive £243 by fundraising at their Christmas fair and donated some new plush soft toys.
- Aberdour Preparatory School who donated £450.52 from their Christmas fair.
- Downsend School Ashtead Pre-Prep, for the parents who donated presents from our suggested gift list and books.
- Oakhyrst Grange School who collected gifts at their school fair.
- Reigate Methodist Church who collected donations at their Christmas Tree Festival and contributed £340.44
- The Parish of Merstham who held a collection at their Christingle service and raised £38.
- Surrey Sands who invited families to attend their Lights of Love service and bring a gift for a child the same age as what their baby would have been this Christmas.
- Caterham WI who collected gifts and stocking fillers at their AGM.
- Caterham Round Table who generously donatedthe funds to purchase the gift bags.
- Horley Lions Club who donated £300 towards late gift requests.
- Redhill Redstone Rotary Club who donated £165, and some Usborne Illustrated Dictionaries and Steiff Reindeer teddies for presents.
- All Things Chic whose proceeds from their Red Barn shopping event raised enough to buy 40 items from our suggested gift list.
- Tropic Skincare for donating gift sets and toiletries to use as parent/carer gifts.
- Corinne, a long term supporter who kindly purchased popular gifts throughout the year and from our suggested gift list, and generously donated them to Santa Stork.
- Esther who, with the help of her friends, prepared 56 gift bundles for teenagers and parents/carers.
- Emily, Joanne and their family and friends, who coordinated a large collection of gifts.
- The Babbage family who support us throughout the year and donated a number of presents.
- Sara who donated lots of book from her Usborne Children’s Books business.
- Tesco Community Champions who organised an in-store collection of gifts which was generously supported by Tesco Gatwick staff and shoppers.
- The Harrow Vintage Inn in Warlingham, who had a Giving Tree for Santa Stork late requests, where tags for specific ages/genders were placed on the tree for customers to take away and purchase a gift. They also raised £140.
- The other local charities involved in the local #LetsGiveChristmas campaign: Voluntary Action Reigate & Banstead, Loveworks, Renewed Hope Trust, Epsom & Ewell Foodbank. Thank you to Pfizer UK for their help with the communications and media planning for the #LetsGiveChristmas campaign.
- Our friends at Halliwell Marks, Walter & Mair, Pistachios Memorial Park, Redhill, TSB in The Belfry, and Let’s Explore, Horley who were so accommodating in allowing people to drop-off presents at their premises.
- Atkins Global who donated £250 to allow us to fulfil the last minute requests.
- RBBC Town Hall who took delivery of all the Amazon parcels from the wishlist and delivered them to us.
- Alex Whiteley for producing the #SantaStork2018 launch video: ‘Give a gift, make a memory’. Thank you also to all those who took part: Ortis @OrtisDeley, Natalie @ThisSurreyMummy, Nicola @IAmNicolaSemple, Cathryn @SeasonalKids, Sarah @PickSarah, Kate @Imagineville16, Josh @JoshPBK.
- Karl Hyder, AKA the man and a van! and ASD Transport who helped transport the gift bags on the day.
- Maraya Gibbs for being our official photographer for the day.
- The team at Reigate Baptist Church for donating the use of their hall and facilities for the day.
- And finally… our amazing Santa Stork team of volunteers – Ann, Gill, Gaynor, Megan, Lisa, Jo, Emma, Sarah S, Sarah C, Debby, Margarida, Donna, Susy, Nicola, Sonya and Jenny, all ably led by Chief Elf Lauren.
If you still want to help with last minute present requests, of which there will be many, you can still donate to our Localgiving Appeal. Thank you!
Merry Christmas everyone xx