What a fabulous year for our Secret Santa Appeal. An appeal which started in 1989 collecting just a couple of hundred toys managed to bring in the second largest collection of toys in 24 years with a total of 3,508 at Christmas.
The appeal planning starts in September and like all things I suppose setting the date for the launch day is what kicks off a set of events which you’re suddenly thrown into. You must produce a project plan that has to fit with eveyone else’s plans to ensure that at the very end we have enough gifts for the nominated children and that we can get them to those children in good time for Christmas.
The Pulse team and myself discuss a plan and then if all our supporters such as the Kirkgate Shopping Centre, Queensgate Market, Huddersfield and Eureka, Halifax are happy, we push the button. The Pulse are excellent at finding a sponsor for the appeal and myself and JCI members start the process of requesting nominations from local childrens charities and social services. For the last three years it has been a relief that 4Urban Strategic Property Partnerships who own the 5Rise Shopping Centre in Bingley have been able to sponsor the appeal because there have been times in the past, especially with the hardship caused by the ‘credit crunch’ and the resulting global recession that it looked like we may not find a sponsor at all.
The artwork for the flyers, posters, stickers and social media is put together and adverts for the radio go into production hoping to get everything printed and distributed ready for the launch day.
I contact all those people who have previously volunteered and all the local businesses and organisations that have supported us in the past asking if they can help once again. I also use social media generally and Bradford Chamber’s Raising the Bar website to promote the appeal within the business community.
Our stand in the Kirkgate Shopping Centre, Bradford is manned by JCI members and volunteers for three weekends between 11am and 4pm Saturday and Sunday. Its broken down into two shifts per day 11am to 1.30pm and 1.30pm to 4pm. However, in Huddersfield and Halifax gifts can be handed in at anytime during opening hours.
As the appeal co-ordinator I ask volunteers to help for just one shift but I’m always pleased when people volunteer for two or three shifts. Some of our volunteers are from the local charities and social services who have nominted children for gifts but we have a few individuals who are not linked to JCI Bradford and not linked to the charities but who just want to help. Dave and Maureen Bedford and Helen Robinson and her boyfriend Fred are two such examples of people who give up their own time for nothing more than to help others in need.
Writing out tags is one of the next big jobs, we have to collate many lists for each organisaion that has nominated children for gifts. The writing out of tags is deffinately a shared job to save you from blisters and wrist and arm ache. 3,500 tags is hard work.
We have fabulous support from the business community especially those who have been with us for many years, UKAR Ltd (formerly Bradford and Bingley) and Bradford Grammar School are two organisations that have been supporting us for over 15 years, Gordons LLP, and Heaton Medical Centre.
Some organisations have joined us in recent years are Blakehill Primary School, M&SWincanton, Pudsey Legal, Netherall Learning Campus, The Cooperative Funeralcare – Longfield House and Mirriam Lord Community Primary School.
New organisations that got involved this year are Bradford University, Bradford Chamber, Multibrands International, Last Cawthra Feather, Christeyns UK, Skipton Properties, HMRC-Shipley and The Lewis Group.
I created a thank you page on our website for the organisations that support us not because they wanted it but because I feel they should be recognised for their contribution to their local community.
Coordinating so many people, businesses, enquiries can be an overwhelming task especially when the appeal is all done in JCI Bradford member’s spare time but at the end of the day we manage to get the job done just in time to relax for Christmas.
Here is a few pictures of me collecting and dropping off gifts:
In 2014 we will be celebrating our 25th Anniversary of the appeal and I hope that we can beat our record of 3,762 gifts collected in 2008.
So it leaves for me to say a huge thank you to all those companies, their staff and the general public who have put their hands in their pocket and bought a gift for a child this Christmas and I wish you all the very best for 2014.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Philip Cavalier-Lumley