Every Christmas we receive thousands of gifts of toys and games for children and young people, and donations of food and money for parents struggling to make a good Christmas for their families. They come from staff in businesses, well meaning individuals, radio appeals who then pass on gifts to us to distribute. A few children came with their parents bringing gifts to our head office.
This year we encouraged people to consider gifts that will brighten a child's life and be a vivid memory for months to come - tickets for ice skating, visits to Santa, the pantomime and the Christmas film releases. We know that poorer children and young people miss out on these experiences in particular and a great many people and businesses have given generously, some including extra cash for hot chocolate drinks, ice cream and treats on the trips out.
You might have thought there would be fewer gifts and donations this year in hard times but not a bit of it. We have received more gifts than ever before plus all the generous trips out as well. Our project and office staff have all rolled up their sleeves to sort and distribute everything in time for Christmas - it has been quite a job but lots of fun too.
This is the season of goodwill and I am an optimist but can I detect a slight change in public opinion? Is it possible that people are thinking we are 'all in this together' and paying a little more attention to each other? Could it be that not being able to afford to spend, means money and spending are slightly less important to us all? Maybe it is even possible that how much a person has might become less important than the kindnesses we show each other? I wonder what 2012 will bring? Happy Christmas!