After a hiatus of two years, the 2022 Christmas Toys and Teens was the first time post-covid that we have done a full toy appeal with Donation Points around town and asking everyone to donate toys.
We were optimistic that donations would be as fantastic as they previously were but were slightly worried that, given the cost of living increases, many people would find it difficult to be as generous as in previous years. We were also slightly worried that the number of children that we would receive requests for would go up, for the same reason.
Well, we were right to be worried on both counts. 2022 turned out to be a difficult year for Reading Family Aid's Toys and Teens. The number of requests went up from 2558 in 2021 to 3001 in 2022 - a 20% increase and a 50% increase on the last 'proper' Toys and Teens we did pre-covid, in 2019. Couple this with toy donations being significantly down - only about 50% of the donations of 2019.
But with the help of our Sponsors, the many, many individual people of Reading, clubs, schools, places of worship, businesses and some very generous donations from a number of funding organisations as well as a good number of smaller monetary donations from a large number of individuals and the amazing shopping and on-line ordering skills of several of the RFA elves, we did manage to provide each child with at least a couple of toys or gifts each.
and over £2,000 in other donations from various individuals, businesses and places of worship - thanks to you all too!
Huge thanks also to one of our sponsors this year: Berkshire Freemasons for their huge number of donations of toys which they brought to the hall on the Sunday afternoon.
and to Caversham Vehicle Hire for the free loan of two vans - we couldn't do it without you.
Thanks to all our Donation Points for encouraging people to donate, in particular to Roc Search who made the largest cardboard box imaginable!
Huge thanks to all the anonymous individual people of Reading who took so many toys and gifts to the donation points and those of you that donated them to all the amazing clubs, businesses, schools and places of worship.
To mention a few of those organisations here: Woodley FC, Calcot FC, St Andrews School Pangbourne, St Andrews Church Sonning, St Peters Church Caversham, Cellnex, Clarify, Tilehurst Methodist Church, The Heights Primary School, The Oratory Prep School, Moulsford Boys Prep School, Allianz in Guildford, The Christchurch Centre in Henley, Fourbears Books in Caversham who organised a reverse Santa, Landmark Estate Agents, Chiltern Nursery, ......
Thanks to you and all the other anonymous donators - you are all AMAZING!
and to Reading's Deputy Mayor, Cllr Debs Edwards for coming along during Toy Project week. She said she was disappointed at how few donations there were on the tables when she visited.
And thanks to all those organisations who donated tables for us to use including Caversham Hall, 89th Reading Scouts, St Anne's in Caversham and St Barnabas in Emmer Green.
And thanks to the anonymous but amazing church hall where we do all the work each year, who donate the use of the hall for the whole week for nothing. Thank you all.
Checking, sorting and packing the toys would not be possible with out the help of our army of volunteers, many of whom turn up year after year to help and some who came from far and wide, even Birmingham and Cardiff! Thank you to everyone that came to help all 98 of you!
And thank to all the vanmen who collected and returned the tables, collected all the donations from the donation points, the companies, schools and places of worship that had in-house collections.
and delivered the 736 packed sacks to 97 family representatives, travelling 530 miles around Reading in total.
So that's it over for another year.
Against the odds, another amazingly successful year.
Everyone pulled together and we managed to put another 3001 smiles on children's faces, to say nothing of their parent's.
Two brothers who had no toys at all at home were so excited to receive their toys - they couldn't believe that they were theirs to keep.
That's why we do it.
And we'll do it all again in 2023:
Appeal Launch on October 19th
Toy Project week 3rd - 8th December
During Christmas week, our committee members were invited to spend the afternoon at Coley Park Community Centre with the founder and leader of Grassrootz charity, Kelvin Husbands, as well as some of the Grassrootz volunteers and the young people they work with.
As a thank you for the support they have received from Reading Family Aid’s Toys and Teens appeal this Christmas, Grassrootz organised a wonderful afternoon of homemade cakes, teas and coffees and board games. Five of our committee members attended and a wonderful time was had by all.
The Grassrootz team told us about the weekly youth clubs they run (in Whitley, Caversham Park Village and Coley Park) and their mentorship programme, whereby the older teenagers mentor the more junior members. It was clear to us that Grassrootz’ role in the personal and professional development of Reading’s young people is what makes it so special.
Grassrootz has been supported by Reading Family Aid in the past with toys and equipment for the children at their junior youth clubs, and we were thrilled to be able to help again this year.
Now, more than ever, young people need support and both Reading Family Aid and Grassrootz work with the aim of putting smiles on children’s and teenagers' faces.
This is where we share our news and inspiring stories of how people have supported us.
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