How a Teesside Charity are Spreading Kindness at Christmas
Teesside at Christmas are teaming up with local charities to spread joy over the festive period
The small team decided to start a local collection with the aim of filling around 30 boxes of Christmas gifts to donate to a local women’s refuge. Boxes were put together with generous donations from friends and family but, as the word got out, more locals got involved, and before they knew it the team had donated hundreds of these gift boxes, plus food and bags full of toys and clothes with the help of Teesside-based charities including TEES and The Link Charitable Trust.
‘Christmas is a particularly hard time for some people and we are conscious that there are lots of people who, while we’re enjoying our Christmas dinner and opening presents, won’t have that, and don’t experience the magic of Christmas,’ Mike, founder and chair of Teesside at Christmas, tells us. ‘It’s meant to be a time for giving and I’ve always wanted to give back to our community. I thought it would start little, and stay little, but it’s growna lot more than I expected.’
After such a huge success last year, Mike knew he wanted to do it all over again this Christmas. And now that Teesside at Christmas is a registered charity, they’ve decided to grow their appeal. Other charities in Teesside can make referrals to Teesside at Christmas who will then donate gifts, boxes and food hampers to those most in need. ‘Charities tell me how many boxes they need and I go away and try and make that happen,’ Mike says. This year, Teesside at Christmas are asking for your help to bring a smile to those in Teesside who just can’t afford Christmas, and those in residential care without family.
There are plenty of ways people can help. ‘We have a lot of supporters who work and may be too busy to get the gifts to put inside the boxes, so we will do that for them if they wish to donate some money,’ Mike explains. ‘We’re running collections this year where people can’t get out to drop items off, but you can find our drop off points online.’
As well as supporting referrals from charities, Mike and his team are also sparing a thought for our emergency service personnel. Members of our local services will also be receiving gifts and a special thank you card this Christmas. ‘It’s important to show support for emergency services because there are still people on shift, and those people give up their time with their friends and family to support our community,’ Mike says. ‘Obviously we’ve had an even more difficult year with Covid and I thought it would be nice to give something back.’
It’s clear to us that Mike is passionate about what he does and, when we ask him what he loves most about his role in the charity, he reflects back to how he felt last Christmas. ‘On Christmas Day, we had a moment to think of how our work throughout the year had given a Christmas to more than 330 people who might not have enjoyed it in the same way,’ he recalls. ‘Last year, we bought every child a hat, scarf and gloves to go into their boxes, so I knew that every child (which was more than 100 in the end) would have them on Christmas Day.’
To help, donate or find out more about the charity head to teessideatchristmas.co.uk. Search ‘Teesside at Christmas Appeal’ to keep up to date with their fundraising and to discover more about how you can help.