Here's a review of how everything came together during the week of collecting, sorting and distributing the toys.
It all starts on Sunday afternoon when we take over St Luke's church hall and set up all the tables. It's important everything is ready for when the toys start arriving on Monday morning.
On Monday morning the toys start arriving in the vans and the tables fill up quickly. That's not surprising given that we had 31 public donation points and 19 private collections this year, generating a record 13 van loads of donations!
Items are sorted as they arrive and are then taken to the designated tables so it's easier to select appropriate toys for each child later.
This is one of our busiest days as donations continue to arrive at the hall and the tables are overflowing. It's time for our volunteers to collect a bag from the nerve centre in the office. Each bag is pre-labelled with some information about the child (or children) who will receive the gifts, and volunteers go round the tables choosing gifts that best match the information we have about each child.
One hundred and seventeen volunteers helped out in the hall this year, and filled 728 bags between them. Sarah Hacker, the Mayor of Reading, even paid us a visit and packed a bag of toys for a 5 year old girl.
Mark Hepplethwaite and his colleague from the Masons arrived this morning with a another large delivery of toys - where to put them all?! The record number of donations this year kept everyone busier than ever, but meant that we could be generous with the gifts.
As the week draws to a close we are focussed on finishing packing all the labelled bags and distributing them to the charities and social workers who will wrap and deliver them to the families in time for Christmas.
It's finally time to start packing up the hall, and the final bags are distributed in the vans. This year we had a team of 14 van drivers who drove a total of 600 miles to collect the donations and deliver the packed bags.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to Reading Family Aid for all the wonderful gifts that were donated to our families, they have been gratefully received. It really is heartwarming to see how generous people have been.” – Community Nursing Secretary, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
"I just want to say a big thank you to you and the team for all the wonderful toys we received to bless our CAP families this Christmas. They have now all been wrapped and delivered and the excitement and appreciation that was evident when we delivered them was a delight to behold. We know there will be some very happy children on Christmas Day." – Liz, CAP UK