This week has been a rollercoaster! We are their last hope!!

Wow what a week it’s been.  We’ve had highs such as over 2000 donations and we are now at 7788, lots of very grateful organisations collecting toys and gifts for children and young people who would otherwise get NOTHING for Christmas.  Sorted out some panto tickets for January with the lovely Deb from Brierley Hill Musical Theatre Company and processed some payments for Christmas parties/hot meals for children and young people.  The elves have been wrapping grotto gifts, sorting and keeping me sane! Don’t know what I would do without my lovelies – Trevor, Rose, Jayne, Steve and Sarah – all volunteers with hearts of gold.  Brett, Lee and Billy the Elf have kept my spirits up too, with piles of donations and cheerful news on how well they are doing this year.

Then there’s reality, the organisations coming in with lists of children and telling us that we are their last hope and without Operation Santa, the children they support would get NOTHING!!!  There have been more lists of children than ever before this year, 35 at the last count and more in my in-box to sort.  We’ve worked out way through the lists, booking in collection slots, but there are still over 300 outstanding and more to come.

These nominators are working with children and young people in dire need 365 days a year and know the grim reality of not just child poverty, but the horrific situation many of them are living with.  We should all feel very lucky if we have somewhere warm and safe to live, and food to eat.  We have had so many tears and heard so many tales of woe and these are just a drop in the ocean of living in Dudley borough for the less fortunate.  The elves and I are hearing about the situation they are living in … victims of burglary when presents have been stolen, plus household items and even the Christmas Tree, children who have been victims of child sexual abuse, parents who have died and left them alone – with grandparents refusing to take them in and the children going into care. Imagine losing your Mum just before Christmas and she’s ALL you’ve got!  A little girl whose Mum has to make the agonising decision that’s right for her daughter about life-changing surgery.

Don’t worry it’s not all doom and gloom and we know that Operation Santa makes a HUGE difference, so please help us to spread the word and support us to reach even more children and young people, for whom we are their only hope!

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Phew what a week of donations!

We have had lots of lovely donations and yesterday was some kind of record I think!  Had two van loads of goodies from Lee [Volks Magic] and Billy the Elf, then Brett and the Blaze Angels went on a secret mission and returned with 7 cars full of items from a high street retailer, before returning for another car load of goodies dropped at the Salon. This week we have also had donations from Jim White, Stephanie, Holy Trinity Church Amblecote, Amblecote/Wordsley Methodist Church, the Duncan Edwards Foundation, Sandi Webb and Janet Phillips, Mrs Croak and Mrs J Feshali.  Thank you to you lovelies 🙂

The boys went BIG and thank you Smyths Toys

A huge, huge thank you to the amazing group of guys who fundraise for Operation Santa all year and do an ENORMOUS toy shop at Smyths Toys each year.  They also fund a huge Christmas Party for 100 local children with a full Christmas lunch and entertainment too. What a bunch of absolute stars.

Today Simon, Mike, Carl and Jason gave up their Sunday with their families and were up at the crack of dawn to go to Smyths in Longridge, where the lovely Shane [Store Manager], arranged to open the store an hour earlier, so they could shop like VIP’s and gave them a 20% discount, plus some free toys. They had a huge shopping session, filling trolleys with the biggest presents they could find and there was so much it filled two large vans!  Bless them and their commitment to making a difference to local children who may otherwise think that Santa has forgotten them.  The toy of the day was the 6 foot long caterpillar chosen by Carl and the elves, and I are wondering quite how this could be wrapped!  Let’s just say it’s a good job we are extending into another room tomorrow as the grotto has never been this full ever!  Here are some photos of the boys in action, doing the ultimate Christmas shop!

Gentleman Geoff is always in our hearts

I was devastated to learn that Geoff Hill had passed away a few weeks ago.  He was a true gent and I first met him in 2000 when I started at Dudley CVS.  As I became involved with Operation Santa I saw more of him and grew to love this passion for making a difference, and his wonderful sense of humour. We had numerous photos together over the years and in later years, rather than photo shoots with the press, Sue and Geoff always came in to give me a sizeable cheque each year for Operation Santa and we had a lovely catch up over a coffee.

A founding member of the Hope Charity that used to fund the annual Toy Appeal and an ongoing supporter when the Hope Charity ceased.  Here’s to many happy memories of a wonderful man.  The giant cracker was an incredible year when we received 6082 donations and last year we reached a jaw-dropping 18776.  We could never have reached so many children who may think that Santa had forgotten them without Gentleman Geoff.  A very special thanks to Jayne and Steve Waltho for their support 🙂

Thank YOU for being amazing :)

What an INCREDIBLE week and thanks to all the lovelies who have made this week for me 🙂 Ending the week on an incredible 3777 donations whoop whoop

Lots and lots of lovely donations and thanks to the wonderful people who’ve donated this week.  To Lee from Volks Magic and the Santas a Gangster gang, who went above and beyond to raise a jaw dropping £3700 which meant I could go shopping and fill the grotto. It’s now so full I can’t fit anything else in there and the carpet in my office has disappeared until we can access our additional room on 2nd December! Never ever been in this position before and it’s been quite emotional.  We are now set up with lots of treats from 0-18 years and so much more promised.

Thanks to the elves who pulled off a veritable mountain of wrapping yesterday in three hours – Jayne, Rose and Sarah – you are all stars. Steve is joining the team next week and our longest standing elf Trev, who has barely sat down this week and is poorly too 😦  Don’t know what I would do without his unstinting support, it can’t be easy being married to Santa’s Logistics Elf!