I briefly mentioned the Key 103 Christmas charity appeal in last week’s giving at Christmas blog post.
But I’ve been lucky enough to see behind the scenes, and as usual, I’m in love with the generosity of our city.
Key 103 and Cash For Kids, aided by a slew of businesses, volunteers and the general public, are collecting Christmas gifts for disadvantaged children across Greater Manchester. Last year, they collecting £2.3Million worth of gifts for 61,800 kids across our city.
Of course, this year they’d like to beat that. And seeing the generosity of others is enough to make your heart swell.
It was 8am. It was finger bitingly cold and I found myself wandering up past the Macdonald Manchester Hotel, to a warehouse on an industrial estate, with a bag of gifts. The email said one, but I skipped a fancy coffee or to and tried to find things I’d have asked my mum for as a kid. And yes, I’ve always been that big a geek.
What I found when I arrived in the warehouse was a small army of volunteers in hi-vis vests. Their breath visible, they were working their way through bags and boxes of donated gifts. Donations left at the collection points across Manchester, or like mine, dropped off in person.
At the back of the warehouse, surrounded by hungry helpers (and me) Simon Wood and Mike Jennings of Wood Manchester were dishing out bacon, egg, and sausage butties, resplendent in Christmas jumpers.
And the Bathroom Takeaway Bus was dishing out tea and coffee from two giant urns, along with bottles of water and packs of biscuits – everything a hungry army of volunteers needs to keep them going in the cold.
Kids of all ages are supported, so after unpacking, the volunteers sort the gifts into ages – I saw everything from toys and games, to clothes and bikes. For the 1 in 4 children in Greater Manchester living in poverty this December, this brings them something their families just can’t afford. A present under the tree.
The idea is that everyone who can buys one extra gift. It doesn’t have to be anything big, and if you can’t donate a gift, then you can donate money by text or online (text KEY to 70808 to make a £5 donation – calls cost standard network rate and 100% of the donation goes to Cash For Kids). Or alternatively, donate some time to helping make someone’s Christmas dream come true.
Mission Christmas works closely with social workers, teachers and emergency services – and they will nominate families in crisis to be supported by the appeal – so you know your gift is going to someone truly in need.
You can find out more, on how you can help, or where your nearest donation point is here.