Charity’s Secret Santa scheme brings a smile to disadvantaged children

Charity ambassador Olympic Hockey player Henry Weir next to the Giving Tree. Pic: Reedham Children’s Trust

People can be a Secret Santa for vulnerable children in Croydon through the Giving Tree scheme Reedham Children’s Trust is running with Centrale and Whitgift shopping centre this year.

The scheme will run until December 22 and involves picking a tag from the Giving Tree located in Centrale and Whitgift and bringing the unwrapped gift to the Gift Box. Reedham Children’s Trust will do the rest. A list of gift ideas can be found here. If you are unable to get to the shops this year, you can still support local children by donating online.

Fundraising manager Jess Ritchie told Eastlondonlines that this year has been particularly difficult for the community due to the impacts of the pandemic. She said: “We are absolutely delighted to be partnering with Centrale and Whitgift this Christmas… Together we can bring a smile to the faces of so many more children with a Christmas present under the tree.”

Gifts that will be distributed to local children. Pic: Reedham Children’s Trust

After the donations are received, they will be taken to local schools where pastoral support teams will allocate the gifts, making sure that children who meet the criteria will get a Christmas present this year. For older age groups they are partnering with charity Reaching Higher who are experienced in working with teenagers. “We want to make sure every child has a present this Christmas,” Ritchie told ELL.

The charity runs an annual toy drive and food vouchers over the Christmas period, but this is the first year that they have been involved with the Giving Trees. CEO Sarah Smart told ELL: “Although we are a small charity, we have been supporting vulnerable children for over 175 years. At Christmas we always appreciate the generosity of others, but this year Centrale and Whitgift, our supporters and local residents have come together at a time of great need in our community.”

“2020 has provided different challenges for all of us, but for many of those we support, these challenges have been significantly worse. We are immensely grateful to those that have supported our work to help vulnerable children and families,” she said.

Henry Weir packaging Christmas hampers. Pic: Reedham Children’s Trust

The charity aims to receive around 500 presents, meaning 500 children in the local community would have a gift this Christmas. Ritchie said: “We realise that there will be an impact [from the pandemic] as not many people are shopping but we are hopeful and we are getting very positive feedback so far…donations across the charity have been really high this year and there is a real sense of Christmas and community spirit.”

Reedham Children’s Trust was established in 1844 and is the oldest Children’s charity in Croydon. They provide support to vulnerable children and young people in Croydon, and organise a variety of projects that help them “gain the education, stability, resilience, skills and self-belief to fulfill their potential.”

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