“The children received only two gifts”: Christmas call that offers a lifeline to families on the brink
A Teesside charity is back to give gifts to the less fortunate.
Teesside at Christmas, founded by husband and wife duo Mike and Gemma Fairborther, aims to provide 500 shoe boxes this holiday season.
The Redcar couple, along with their friend and fellow charity administrator Dead Richardson, Thornaby, hope to bring smiles on Christmas Day to those who have had a tough year through no fault of their own.
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Last year, gifts and shoe boxes were distributed to local charities including The Link Charitable Trust, Esplanade, Redcar.
“We had a lady, her kids only got two presents on Christmas because that’s all they could afford, but we were able to store her,” said Tina Jackson, Managing Director of The Link Charitable Trust.
“The things Mike brought were absolutely fantastic, they had a huge impact, the families really enjoyed them.
“It was good to deliver these things to them.
“Le Lien helps people leaving care, in memory of Julie Donaldson.
“But it can be anyone, old people living alone, young people alone, families with children who cannot afford to give them gifts.
“It’s really good to see everyone working together.
“Mike’s job is fantastic, we picked him up in his garage last year and things just stacked up.”
Tina is currently meeting with Mike to plan this year’s appeal so he knows exactly how many people need to be supported.
EVA Women’s Aid, located on Redcar’s High Street, is a charity that supports survivors of domestic violence.
The charity also received gifts from the appeal in 2020 which went to women and children fleeing domestic violence and violence.
A spokesperson for EVA Women’s Aid said: “The Teesside shoebox appeal at Christmas last year enabled us here at EVA Women’s Aid to bring a package to each of the women in our shelters. .
“They were absolutely thrilled with the new pajamas, fluffy socks and a nicely wrapped shoebox with lovely gifts and toiletries – not to mention the hot chocolate and candy bars!
“A wonderful finishing touch was the Christmas card included in each box.
“The women were so grateful for all the goodies and loved to think that someone was thinking of them, and all of us here at EVA are always touched by the kindness of the local support we receive.
“Shoe boxes brought a bright sparkle to Christmas Day for our women. “
Due to the influx of local support this year, the charity asked Mike to donate the gifts to others in need.
Mike said: “We have over 30,000 children living in poverty in Teesside and it is a terrible consideration how many of these children will wake up at Christmas without any gifts to open.
“We want to help mitigate that. “
The trio registered for charitable status in May and worked behind the scenes ahead of the 2021 appeal, which was launched recently.
Mike said: “I tried to get it at the start of this year because we had such a great response last year.”
At the end of 2020, Mike and Gemma had collected around 330 shoeboxes and 60 black bags filled with gifts which were distributed to charities across Teesside.
They have supported EVA Women’s Aid, The Link Charitable Trust, TEES, Coatham House, as well as a number of care home residents without families.
Mike said: “We started a charity in May to exploit some fundraising options, last year we were just a community group.”
They are back again to spread a festive mood and give a helping hand to underprivileged people during what can be a difficult time of year.
This winter, Teesside at Christmas will support TEES, The Link Charitable Trust, The Christmas Dinner Project, My Sisters Place and Nite Light CIC.
Gifts will go to families on the poverty line, those emerging from care, and extremely vulnerable women and children who have fled domestic violence, to name a few.
Mike said: “One of our core values and principles is that we really care that donations go to real people.
“There are a lot of calls where you just put a donation in a box.”
Mike, Gemma and Dean want to match the donations to the specific wishes of the locals.
They are in the process of compiling a live list, which will be posted on the Facebook page, describing the age and gender of the recipients of the shoeboxes.
Mike said: “We recognize that there is a real need, and if we can fill it, we will take it off our list.
“We will adapt what we need so that we don’t end up with tons of surplus. “
Once they have received what they need, they will close the call.
Mike is now asking people to start saving shoeboxes before the list goes live.
Everyday basics such as hygiene items, hats, scarves and gloves are always appreciated, as well as a treat, stationery, books and toys.
In the 2020 appeal, they requested that a hat, scarf or gloves go in each box, and thanks to an anonymous donor from Marske, the money was used to ensure that each box contained at least one of those articles.
Mike said: “Some of these kids and adults can’t afford them, so it was nice to be able to do that.”
Various drop-off points are set up all over Teesside, which will also be listed on the Facebook page.
A few schools have also expressed interest in launching a full school appeal.
Mike sent information to 30 referral partners, with support from TEES, to make sure as many people as possible were reached this Christmas.
The deadline for all donations is Sunday, December 12, and shoe boxes must be wrapped with the lid separately so that they can be checked.
Further information on the call can be found here or contact us at [email protected] .
First Choice Labels has once again committed to creating labels, sponsoring Christmas cards, and providing a powered van for the collections.
Mike said: “In addition, we hope to receive monetary donations and funds to help us create 28 identical baskets for the emergency service stations in Teesside.
“The pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, but our emergency services have been constant throughout.
“We often forget at times like Christmas, while we are sitting opening presents or having our Christmas dinner, that there are people who are protecting us, saving us, helping us and supporting us.
“It’s good to give a little something back.”
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