Sleigh’s the way to do it as Didcot charity launches 8th festive campaign
Play2Give is dusting off its sacks for this year’s collection of thousands of presents for people less fortunate.
Every September our charity launches Sleigh2Give, which is the festive arm of the organisation, and which is all about spreading cheer, joy and smiles to poorly children in hospital, the vulnerable, those with disabilities and families on low incomes to ensure that no child less fortunate goes without the magic of a gift at Christmas.
This year’s eighth drive was launched towards the end of September.
Over the past seven Christmases Play2Give has raised and distributed thousands of presents across the county and has given out presents valuing around £220,000 since the annual festive drive was launched in 2015.
Play2Give was founded by Didcot’s Andy Baker, 34, in 2007. The charity this month turned fifteen years old, and the MBE founder has dedicated twenty years in total to fundraising for good causes particularly the Oxford Children’s Hospital. Driven to first raise money aged 14 in 2003 to help fund the cost of the specialist children’s hospital in the city, he was inspired in thanks to brain surgery he received as a teenager aged 12.
Andy who was born with a brain injury marked two decades of fundraising earlier this year and as well as the MBE from The Queen he received for services to charity last year, also received a British Citizen Award in 2017.
Play2Give continued the fundraising he first embarked upon as a pupil at St Birinus School, and the charity was born out of a football tournament.
In 2015 Sleigh2Give was devised as a one off appeal in tandem with Didcot’s Sainsbury’s to collect a sacksful of toys for the children’s wards and since then the annual festive drive has become so popular and taken off that each year the number of gifts increases, with last year’s appeal being a record collection and gifts was still distributed out into March.
Charitable incorporated organisation, Play2Give, also raises funds for other county causes including the local brain injury organisation Headway, SSNAP and Helen and Douglas House, with the gifts raised each Christmas being given out far and wide to a wide number of groups and charities, and individuals.
Last year around £50,000 worth was donated by the generous community including supermarket shoppers, corporate sponsors, schoolchildren, offices and even local netball clubs and dance schools.
Two branches of Home-Start, Oxfordshire Foster Care Association, Worminghall-based Thomley, disability respite centre Barnados Viking House in Headington, as well as low-income families through the Didcot Foodbank alongside children in hospital, the JR neonatal care unit and Helen and Douglas House are just some of this year’s gift beneficiaries alongside young hospital patients.
Andy and his elves are now readying their sacks and making room in the storage sheds for this year’s present collection and are calling on the residents of the county to dig deep and donate new toys, books, non-perishable items, art and crafts, colouring items, puzzles and games, knitted blankets and comfort items for newborn babies, vouchers and other gifts that will brighten up the lives of those in need with cheer this Christmas.
Annual sponsors include Didcot charity heroes Changing Lives and Go Green Taxis.
There are already a number of public donation points confirmed including Space Store shops in Didcot and Oxford covered market, three branches of The Crafters Emporium, the Courtyard by Marriot Oxford South Hotel and The Lambourn centre on Abingdon business park.
Play2Give organises and holds a wide number of year-round community fundraisers and through both events and the provisions of materials and gifts Andy and his army of volunteers have raised over £380,000 including sponsoring a patient room at £40,000 in the children’s hospital which treats teenagers facing long term stays. In 2017 £7,000 went towards funding six specialised neuro exercise machines for the gym at the Headway Oxfordshire rehabilitation centre.
To help with the charity’s festive drive and how to get involved including details of public donation points visit play2give.org.uk or the Facebook page @play2giveoxford
Notes: This year’s poster as well as some pictures from last year’s deliveries and collections are attached.