The Toys and Teens Appeal is now over for 2019. In total we collected and distributed toys to over 2,000 children. Sadly, that’s an increase of 300 children since last year, which shows how important this appeal is for Reading families at Christmas time.
Over 15,000 new and nearly new toys were donated by the incredibly generous community including individuals and companies, churches and other and organisations: The Berkshire Freemasons, ROC Search, Logicalis, WorkDay, Deloitte, Clarify, Verizon, Dell, Dynamic Family Chiropractic, Reading Farmers Market, SAP Concur, Wellington Country Park, Throgmartin, BDO, Stewarts Coaches and so many more.
Over the course of a week the toys were collected from the many donation points across Reading, including Big Yellow Storage, in vans kindly lent to us for free by Caversham Vehicle Hire.
The toys arrived at our hall, and were packed with the help of our incredible volunteers, some of whom have been packing toys for us for 10 years! Thanks to BDO, PWC, RBS, Throgmorten, Huntswood, Dell, SAP Concur and the many other companies and individuals that helped over the week. And thanks to Maiden Earley Rotary Club for sponsoring the food and drink that kept our volunteers going during the week
The toys have now been delivered to the people who requested toys on behalf of the families with whom they work: Social Workers, Health Visitors, Schools, Churches and other Charities who will deliver them to their families. We’re sure these gifts will put a smile on the faces of all the children this Christmas.
Lastly, a huge thank you to our main sponsors: The Reading Chronicle, Big Yellow Storage, The Berkshire Freemasons and Caversham Vehicle Hire. This appeal couldn’t happen without you.
But the Toy Appeal is not the only thing Reading Family Aid do each year. We also take deprived children to the Pantomime and on a Summer Outing to a theme park, the seaside or another lovely location. To do this we need sponsorship and funding. Our charity is completely non-profit and we get no regular funding, and all our committee and volunteers work for free meaning any money you donate goes straight to giving these children a wonderful experience and putting smiles on their faces. If you can spare any donation, please go to our DONATE NOW page, or if you are a member of a company please get in touch as we’d love to be one of your chosen charities this year.
The Toy Project has always used large black plastic bags to pack and deliver the Christmas gifts to families, but this year we looked for an alternative to non recyclable bags.
Research showed that there wasn’t an affordable alternative, which would be strong enough and the correct size, until someone suggested that we ask for donations of old, clean, duvet covers and make our own.
Requests went out to friends, Freegle and on Facebook and we got started. Each double duvet makes 4 bags, with lots of variety of patterns. We have penguins, dinosaurs, lots of flowers, both large and small, colourful checks and plain red, blue, white and brown, which we hope will be fun to pack, and a small contribution to the reduction in plastic waste.
We won’t have sufficient numbers this year, but will trial them to make sure that they are strong enough. We would like them to be returned to us, for use next year.
Meanwhile more duvet covers will be gratefully received.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone that used their green tokens in Waitrose in Caversham to vote for us!
As you can see form the photo we got the biggest share of the tokens which magically turned into a cheque for £404, which Wendy collected from Jared Carroll who looks after the Community Matters Scheme in Caversham.
On a perfect day in early August (not too hot and dry all day) we were at Earley Green Fair. The main focus of the Fair is, as its name suggests, Green things. So lots of stalls promoting the environment, animal welfare, plants, recycling etc, etc.
We had 3 spaces there selling our left overs from last year's Toy Project - those items not suitable or just a bit too scruffy or items that turned out to be for adults rather than for children - along with general bric-a-brac, books and a fantastic raffle.
Friend of the committee, Steve, also used a bit of our space to sell his jams and chutneys and then very kindly donated his proceeds to us - thanks Steve!
It was a very profitable day with just over £800 being raised and with £245 from Steve we cleared £1,000 for the day. We also sported our new gazebo for the first time.
We'll be there again next year so make a note in your diary for August 1st 2020 and find us by Maiden Erlegh Lake.
On the hottest day of the year 4 coaches left Reading to head for Paultons Park. The coaches were blissfully air conditioned, so we travelled in comfort to Hampshire. As we arrived at the Park a great cheer went up on the coach and the excitement mounted.
We distributed tickets to all the adults and children over 1m and they headed into the park. We spotted lots of children revelling in the splash pool, met others in Peppa Pig World. And in the theatre. There was great fun to be had on all the rides and the mature trees in the beautiful garden gave welcome shade for picnics and a rest.
Everyone came home tired, but happy after a great day out!
Here is what our partner agencies and the families had to say about the day...
“The families have said they really enjoyed themselves so thank you very much to Reading Family Aid for allowing them to have this experience which they may not of had if it wasn’t for yourselves “
“I would like to thank Reading Family Aid for including Redlands families on this trip. They all had a lovely time and were grateful for the opportunity. They said they had fun and the parents all said Thank you. It gave them an opportunity that they would not usually have and started off the holiday with a bang! “
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! Such a brill day and we couldn’t have had it without you. We are ever so grateful! Thank you again.” – JD
“It was amazing! The kids absolutely loved it! We had the best day out and a huge thank you from us all.” - FS
“Thank you so much for the trip and allowing us to have tickets for this. all our families really enjoyed it the children stated “ it was great we had so much fun” “ this is the best day ever “
On July 4th we held our AGM. We were honoured that The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading, Councillor Paul Woodward joined us.
Ruth Perkins as Chair welcomed everyone and gave a report on the work of the charity over the past year. She said we had managed to provide toys or an Outing to more families than ever before and commented on the changes that the committee has had to accommodate over the last 20 years not just in terms of numbers of families that we support but also in terms of technology, social media and new laws and regulations to which we must abide.
All this means building a committee with diverse skills and knowledge ranging from Project Management to IT to Tombola preparation to Social Media to Charity Law and Governance and everything in between. Luckily we have managed to recruit an excellent team that cover most things.
David Berry reported that we had managed to spend slightly less that our income over the past year which is always good! We have a healthy bank balance but all of this is earmarked for spending on the Outings and Expenses over the next few months so we will need to raise more funds for next year's outings.
Officers, existing and new committee members were voted in and the formal meeting was closed.
This was followed by a social hour enjoying refreshments provided by the committee.
June 29th was Armed Forces day and was also the hottest day of the year and perhaps one of the hottest days ever in Reading!
The Mayor had organised a celebration of our Armed Forces in Forbury Gardens and we had a stall to spread the word about what we do.
We had a prime spot next to the grandstand and were entertained all day with music - everything from Vera Lynn and Gracie Fields, to the Beatles and more classical numbers.
We raised some money with our lollipop game and handed out many leaflets. And indulged in an ice cream - or two!
Another fun filled day at Winnersh Fete.
Despite strong winds and occasional showers, it was another successful event. We had a tombola, lolly competition as well as some items for sale.
It's always a pleasure to hear peoples excitement at winning a prize, especially when it is something they wanted. They always appreciate the quality of the items.
The picture shows some committee members sporting our new t-shirts.
Today we put smiles on children's faces!
Smiles of excitement as they journeyed on the coach. Smiles of recognition when they met up with their friends. Smiles of awe while stroking the farm animals. Smiles of glee splashing about in the pool. Giggles aplenty at the magician. Even the ice-cream smeared mouths could not hide the beaming smiles!
And it was not just the children who smiled. The parents and carers were unanimous in expressing their pleasure at having the opportunity to join in with all the fun that Camp Mohawk has to offer. One Mum told us that the day had restored her belief that there is kindness in the world. What an honour.
The wonderful, kind, patient, fun-loving staff at Camp Mohawk ensured a truly memorable experience for everyone. It was delightful to see the children running freely and exploring in the woodland environment. Their joy in all the different experiences offered was uplifting.
Reading Family Aid also provided additional activities. The mobile farm Basil and Crew gave the children chance to engage with rabbits, ducks, lambs, kids and a giant tortoise (to name but a few). Uncle Charlie had the children chuckling away with his antics. And the ice-cream man ensured a sweet end to the proceedings.
I must thank Sallie and Roz (first rate coach monitor) from the outings committee for their support in planning the event and on the day. Thanks to Tracey and Liz for joining in the fun. And thank you to all the committee for their unique roles in making this happen.
And a great big thank you to our partner agencies who found the families who smiled all day long.
On Monday 20th May we received the very exciting news that we had been selected as one of the Mayor's charities for this year. This means that we will benefit from the Mayor's charity fundraising during his year in office and his support at any events that we hold.
Ruth and Wendy attended the Council AGM and the Mayor Making ceremony. In his speech the Mayor, Cllr Paul Woodward, said that he chose us because of the help we provide to the many disadvantaged families in Reading. He said that it is astonishing to understand that despite Reading being one of the seemingly most affluent towns in the country, there is so much deprivation to be found, with about a quarter of Reading's children living in poverty.
In the pictures, the Mayor making his speech and Ruth and Wendy (sporting their t-shirts with the new RFA logo!) are with the Mayor and Matt Rodda, Reading East MP.
This is where we share our news and inspiring stories of how people have supported us.
Read previous newsletters here.