Thousands of Christmas presents to children less fortunate have been gifted out by local fundraising group, Play2Give.
With a helping hand from the Mayor of Didcot, Cllr Mocky Khan, and Play2Give Patron David Johnston, MP for Wantage and Didcot, Andy Baker donned his Elf self and helped to sprinkle the magic and cheer to others this Christmas who would otherwise go without.
Sleigh2Give, the festive arm of the fundraising organisation, has raised around at least £40,000 worth of toys and gifts to distribute out to children and siblings in hospital, less fortunate children, low-income families in Didcot and to the vulnerable.
The gifts raised by the generosity of the local community including schoolchildren, businesses, groups and supermarket shoppers have helped to spread cheer joy and smiles and over the course of a week a record number of beneficiaries on the Sleigh2Give list than ever before, was given out.
Play2Give, which raises funds all year round for a wide number of local causes including children, health and disability causes particularly the Oxford Children’s Hospital, Headway Oxfordshire and Footsteps amongst others, has already raised over £12,000 this year.
With 18 deliveries within a week, receiving gifts this Christmas includes the Children’s Hospital, the Headway centre in Kennington, Helen & Douglas House, Viking House a respite centre for children with profound disabilities, two branches of Home-Start, SSNAP and financially struggling families with toys for their children through the Didcot Foodbank.
Sleigh2Give was born by the fundraising group Play2Give in 2015 as an initial one-off Christmas toy appeal with Sainsbury’s in Didcot. However, the festive spin off really took off, and each year the number of beneficiaries alongside the number of gifts donated grows and grows.
This year nurseries and schools for children with special needs in Abingdon and in Didcot alongside local children in foster care have also benefited.
Andy founded Play2Give in 2007, to continue the fundraising he first began aged 14 almost two decades ago while a pupil at Didcot’s St Birinus School, to raise funds to thank the medical teams who treated him from birth. Andy was born with a brain injury and following a further traumatic head injury, underwent brain surgery in Oxford aged 12. His experience and treatment were the inspiration to beginning raising funds, and to date over £320,000 has been raised.
The gifts for Headway ranging from art and painting sets to brain games, a boccia set and board games worth over £500 was delivered with Andy alongside local MP, David Johnston, who has been a patron of the fundraising organisation Play2Give for almost two years.
The Mayor of Didcot, Councillor Mocky Khan, who’s supporting Play2Give through awareness and fundraising as one of his Mayoral charities, also took a day out of his busy schedule to help deliver Andy’s gifts.
Schools including St Birinus School, Wallingford School and netball clubs and dance schools to charity Changing Lives, supermarkets including Tesco, offices and retailers such as the Space Store in Didcot, all helped contribute to this year’s record-breaking gift collection.
Due to the overwhelming record number of presents donated, further gifts will be distributed out into the New Year by the team, including disability charity Thomley based in Buckinghamshire.
A cheque totalling more than £3,200 was also handed over to Headway at the end of last week, from two years of fundraising events. Recent events this year including tombola’s, danceathons and a colour fun run has enabled the Play2Give group to raise close to £20,000 for the specialist rehabilitation charity supporting adults with brain injuries.
Local charity Changing Lives donated £2,000 and a Milton Hill company donated £300 worth into the sleigh during a three-day collection in Tesco Didcot.
The Play2Give group are now busy planning for a big year ahead, ass the organisation will celebrate turning fifteen years old in 2022 and hopes to raise £15k in 15. They will celebrate with their third gala ball at Didcot Civic Hall in March. Andy will mark twenty years of fundraising in February.