Santa Stork 2019 – our biggest year yet!

Santa Stork blog (7)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. At least it was on 9th December, as Reigate Baptist Church was transformed into a festive frenzy of present wrapping, mince pies and unlimited Christmas spirit.

Updated figures (including late referrals):
2276 children and 1047 parents/carers have been distributed gifts through Santa Stork 2019. That’s a grand total of 3323, which is 10% higher than our target and nearly 1000 more presents than last year!

A culmination of all the hard work which goes into Santa Stork is our Giving Day. We wrap all of the presents which have been so generously donated and then hand them over to our referral partners, who deliver them to the families they are supporting in time for Christmas.

 

It all started at the crack of dawn when ASD Transport and Karl aka ‘Karl’s Man and Van’, delivered all the presents to Reigate Baptist Church. A team of volunteers where eagerly waiting to unload and sort them into referral bundles. As you can imagine, with nearly 3000 presents, organisation was key! It’s a good job Chief Elf Elaine was calm and in control to coordinate the day.

Wrapping stations were filled with our wonderful volunteers, community groups and corporate teams. Christmas jumpers were the uniform which meant everyone looked the part, some more than others.

 

Everyone was eager to start wrapping like they’ve never wrapped before. We are so grateful to everyone who took time out of their busy lives to lend a helping hand.

So, what’s included in each gift bundle? Unlike the usual pre-loved donations we accept all year round, Santa Stork gifts are brand new and, wherever possible, are what the children (or the parents/carers on their behalf) have requested through their support worker. As well as the wrapped main present, approximately three stocking fillers are included in each gift bag.

48 Olafs thanks to the In Kind DirectDisney donation

We are always mindful that no family’s children should be left out, no matter how old. And if it’s felt that the parent/carer would benefit from a present themselves, they are also added to the list.

Beautifully hand decorated parent/carer gift bags and contents by Reed Business Information

The referrals collecting on behalf of the families were allocated time slots throughout the day. If time was on their side, they were invited to grab a moment and a mince pie in our waiting area.

It was humbling for us to chat with so many of them about the families they are supporting. Although we don’t get to see the family’s gratification first hand, they do, and hearing their stories is both heart warming and heart breaking at the same time.

Two special visitors who joined us for the day was the Mayor of Reigate & Banstead, Councillor Keith Foreman, and the Mayoress. As Stripey Stork is one of their supported charities this year, they’ve been involved in Santa Stork from the beginning, so they weren’t going to miss the ultimate Santa Stork experience.

We were delighted to welcome That’s TV Surrey who were keen to see for themselves the scale of this Christmas Giving project and what’s involved.

As interviewed in the feature, one of the most touching stories was hearing from Steph who has been helped by Stripey Stork and Santa Stork in the past. Thankfully her family are in a much better place now, but she’ll never forget how desperate her situation was and how being on the receiving end of such generosity made her feel. She felt compelled to make a contribution of her own, so we were so pleased that she could join us for the day. She was also able to catch up with her support worker from that period, how rewarding for everyone involved.

Steph (left) giving back

Time flew by and as the day came to a close, everyone was buzzing from the satisfaction of knowing the difference they’d made to so many local families this Christmas. Watching this speeded up video was exhausting, but satisfying to see all that had been achieved in one day.

Making a difference

This was our sixth Santa Stork and we had no doubt that it was going to be our biggest. Sadly, our predictions were correct. We set ourselves a target of distributing 2000 gifts to children and 1000 to their parents/carers. The total figures are:

2276 children
1047 parents/carers
Grand total of 3323 gifts
Estimated goods valuing £65,000

There’s still more late requests coming in and these are expected right up until we break for Christmas on the 20th December. We’ll be updating this blog with the final figures when the campaign comes to a close.

To demonstrate how the demand for Santa Stork has increased over time, here’s some figures to contemplate:

Santa Stork 2018: 1517 children/828 adults

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

The scale of Santa Stork is now literally off the scale! An amazing amount of families have been helped this Christmas and that’s been made possible because of the generosity of our local community. They’ve answered our plea, shared our messages and are without doubt the absolute best!

Our message this year was focussed around making Santa Stork part of your family’s Christmas, and our wishes were made true. We saw many familiar faces and heard stories of how children had been asking when they were going to go shopping for “the children who don’t have very much”. It gives us hope for a better, more equal, future, but until then we’ll keep doing what we do, and welcome the day that we are no longer needed.

Some big thank you’s

Organising a campaign of this magnitude is a collective effort, so here are some special thank you’s. We hope we’ve captured everyone, but as you can imagine it’s a long list so if we’ve missed anyone, please let us know.

The following two organisations have been key partners and running the project without them would have been unimaginable. They’ve integrated the additional workload into their regular working day and for this we are extremely grateful:

  • Reigate Grange Care Home – thanks to Sarah-Jane, Julie and Chloe for allowing us to run the project from some self-contained apartments on their second floor, to the staff for being so welcoming and to the residents for volunteering their time. We’d also like to thank the Maintenance Team for loaning us their big trolley and helping with the recycling of packaging. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with them, see blog for more information about our partnership and how it came about.
  • Reigate & Banstead Town Hall – for accepting the Amazon deliveries and delivering the parcels to Reigate Grange. A special thanks to Jake, Denyse and Bob.

The following have also been integral in making Santa Stork happen, thanks to:

  • Our amazing Santa Stork team who’ve worked tirelessly throughout November and into December: Margarida, Lauren, Gill, Ann, Laura, Emma P, Emma N, Maria, Sam, Jo, Andrea C, Angie, Pat, Kathy, Lois, Louise, Megan. All ably led by Chief Elf Elaine who’s done a fantastic job in managing the project. Here’s the Dream Team themselves:
  • Everyone who volunteered on Giving Day, ensuring presents were organised, wrapped and loaded into the referrals’ cars.
  • Everyone who has donated online, via our Amazon wish list or gone shopping to buy a gift. Thank you also to everyone who has shared our #SantaStork2019 posts and shouted about the campaign from the rooftops. Your voice was heard and as a result the response has been amazing.
  • All of our wonderful referral partners who have made requests on behalf of the families they support, and then collected and distributed the gifts.
  • 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.
  • The team at Reigate Baptist Church for donating the use of their hall and facilities for Giving Day.

Gift collections

Thank you to the following for organising their own collections:

Funders

Businesses, schools and organisations

  • The All In One Company – for the donation of cuddly teddy bears dressed in mini onesies.
  • Bailhache Linton accountants – for generously donating to our appeal and helping to spread the word on social media.
  • Bathing Bunnies – for donating last season’s stock of animal bathrobes for some of the under one year olds on our list.
  • Beauty Banks – for donating lots of toiletries and gift sets for the Mums and teenage girls on our list.
  • Belfry Shopping Centre in Redhill – for inviting us to have a stall at their Christmas lights switch on event, where we collected gifts donated by shoppers. Also, thanks to Andy Nash and his team for helping on Giving Day.
  • Bunny Bear Nursery – for the generous contribution towards last minute gifts.
  • Crown Brush – for donating lipstick brushes to go with the lipstick palettes donated by Tropic Skincare for the teenage girls on our list.
  • Croydon Council, Bernice – for coordinating a collection of funds.
  • Holy Trinity Church – for donating excess gifts from their Christmas box appeal.
  • In Kind Direct and Disney – for donating 48 Frozen2 Olaf cuddly toys as part of their #IKDDisneyMagic campaign.
  • Morrisons supermarket, Reigate – for allowing us to purchase 300 selection boxes at half price (usually limited to 10 per customer) and donating almost 200m of wrapping paper.
  • Puzzler – for donating puzzle books and puzzles to include as stocking fillers in our gift bags.
  • Ralph James – for raising funds for at the Reigate Christmas Fayre.
  • Redhill Redstone Rotary Club – for donating 44 Steiff Reindeer teddies.
  • St Mary’s Play Group in Reigate – for organising a money collection.
  • Tesco Gatwick Community Champions – who organised an in-store collection of gifts which was generously supported by staff and shoppers.
  • That’s TV Surrey, Zinal – for reporting and videoing on the day.
  • The Girl Who Gardens, Renee – for constructing a stork nest for the top of our Stripey Stork themed Christmas tree at Reigate Grange.
  • The Works, Redhill – for the 25% discount on a bulk purchase of books.
  • Vorboss – for donating 30 plush fox teddies.
  • Wilkos, Lisa and Sarah – for bulk ordering 1000 bags of chocolate coins and applying a discount.
  • Woodlands Estate Agents – for donating money instead of doing Secret Santa presents.
  • Xmas Wholesaler – for allowing us to bulk buy gift bags for all the children on our list.

Individuals

  • Ali from Unilever – for sourcing wash bags for parent/carer gifts and purchasing items from the Unilever staff shop to fill them.
  • Christine – for donating a team autographed Sunderland FC shirt which we were able to sell for £250. This was used towards project costs, including wrapping paper.
  • Corinne – a long term supporter who kindly donated popular gifts purchased throughout the year.
  • Emily from JLT – who purchased wish list gifts from raffle funds and made a personal contribution of her own.
  • Esther who, with the help of her friends, prepared some lovely teenage gift bundles.
  • Jan – who has been selling plants outside her home in Dorset to raise funds for Santa Stork.
  • Lucy and son Ewan – for donating a collection of prizes won in a Beano competition.
  • Part Time Mummy blogger – for helping to spread the word on social media about our campaign.
  • Ruth and her son Matt – from ACS International School in Egham who organised a gift collection.
  • The Mayor of Reigate & Banstead – for volunteering at Reigate Grange and on Giving Day, and bringing a collection of gifts from Phab in Croydon.

Logistics

  • Karl Hyder, AKA the man and a van! – for helping transport gifts and other items on Giving Day.
  • ASD Transport – who transported and stored the gift bags ready for Giving Day.
  • Maraya Photography – for capturing Giving Day so perfectly.

Additional December fundraising/donations

It’s been an extremely busy month and we feel very lucky to have had the support of so many people, small businesses and organisations who have been making their own difference in the name of Stripey Stork. We haven’t been able to thank each of these individually on social media, but that just goes to show the extent of the support, so thanks also to:

  • Aberdour School (Tadworth) –  for donating £141.03 from the proceeds of their Christmas fair.
  • Becky Pearce Designs – a talented local jeweller who is also a regular volunteer at Stripey Stork. Becky gave our supporters/volunteers a 10% discount code to be used throughout November, which in turn raised £50 in Stripey Stork funds.
  • Beaufort Group – who raised £310 for Stripey Stork in a family fun day raffle, of which they donated the prizes.
  • createselect – a local business who kindly donated to Stripey Stork instead of sending Christmas cards/gifts this year.
  • Gould family – for their amazing charity Christmas lights display at their home in Caterham (Manor Avenue). The fundraising is still in progress, but their hope is to raise £2000, which was also helped by the 1st Chaldon Brownies raising £324 in a sponsored silence.
  • Mini Melton – who had a stall at the Reigate Christmas Fayre and #EtsyMadeLocal event in Guildford, she kindly donated 10% of these sales to Stripey Stork, raising £40 for us.
  • Reigate Squash Club – for raising £80.60 from raffle ticket/cake sales.
  • St Peter & St Paul School (Caterham) – who donated the proceeds from their Christmas play to Stripey Stork, a total of £192.61.
  • UK Power Networks – who organised a children’s Christmas gift collection in their office.
  • Your Local Little Black Book – who held a charity raffle at the Reigate Christmas Fayre, proceeds of which were split between the six charities promoted in the debut edition, a total of £150 was raised for Stripey Stork.

Thank you everyone!

 

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