Christmas is ON for those children in the North West who need it most – thanks to The Toy Appeal’s Covid defence system.
They refused to let Coronavirus destroy plans to provide 5,000 children receive presents as usual, even though that has meant a lot of extra effort and a little help from Red CCTV and Egerton Football Club.
The Toy Appeal ensures vulnerable children, who may be living in poverty or be otherwise unlikely to be given presents, receive a special parcel on Christmas Day.
Each child receives a Santa sack containing eight presents, all brand new and in their original packaging, and all donated by members of the public.
This means a mammoth sort out involving 400+ volunteers but, the current Covid pandemic meant this year, that would be impossible.
But, Toy Appeal founder Dee Drake found a way to beat Covid, by asking for cash donations so she could purchase presents directly, and then protecting her team of volunteers with a Covid defence system, which included the Halo Shield.
Dee explained: “We have had to make so many changes this year to ensure we are still in a position to help these vulnerable children.
“Normally, we ask families to go and buy a new toy or gift and then drop it off and one of our drop off points around the North West.
“Covid makes that impossible on so many levels and so, instead, we asked for cash donations that would allow us to buy the items through a number or wholesalers directly.
“The aim is to provide individual sacks, containing eight presents, for 5,000 children across the North are invited to purchase and then drop off toys and gifts which are then passed onto vulnerable youngsters.
“That means sorting through 40,000 or so gifts and that requires a huge effort but, again, Covid means we can’t do things as we would normally do.
“Traditionally we would have 400 volunteers sorting through the toys but, because of the current climate, we are restricted to 30 people spaced out throughout the building and outside and it’s a slow process.”
Red CCTV donated their innovative Halo Shield System to ensure those volunteers were kept safe by measuring the body temperature of volunteers, and anyone entering the ‘safe sorting bubble’ used by the Toy Appeal at Egerton.
Dee added: “It was a really relief knowing that the Halo Shield temperature monitoring system was there as, it meant our volunteers could be confident, that anyone entering the building was free of Covid symptoms.
“Egerton Football Club is always incredibly helpful and generous by allowing us to use their facility and, it means we are carry on and get ready for Christmas.”
Egerton Football Club in Knutsford has been working with The Toy Appeal for a number of years. They provide free use of their facility to sort through the gifts, and would normally also serve as a drop-off point.
On Saturday that saw an Armada of trucks flowing in and out of the footballing venue whilst hundreds of children were playing matches or receiving coaching as usual.
Egerton FC Chairman Tom O’Donnell, said: “I contacted Red CCTV about their Halo Shield System as I was concerned about the numbers of people that would be around, as, aside from the Toy Appeal Drop-Off, this was a normal Saturday / Sunday for us.
“It was a great opportunity to trial the equipment in an environment like ours and provides everyone present with a real confidence booster that they are safe.
“It enabled the Drop-Off to take place successfully and that means a terrific charity can continue its amazing work.”
Red CCTV Managing Director Rob Kennedy was delighted to support the Toy Appeal and Egerton FC.
He added: “When Tom told me about the Toy Appeal and the wonderful work they do it was a no-brainer.
“I’m very lucky in that I have a wonderful little boy who loves the idea of Christmas and, it is almost impossible, to comprehend that some children don’t receive presents.
“To know that a wonderful charity like the Toy Appeal is there to step in and provide for those children is an amazing effort.
“It would have been very easy for them to say they couldn’t do it this year because of Covid. I’m delighted they decided that was never an option.
“That means fewer volunteers working even harder than ever and the least we can do is try and offer them some protection.”
The Halo Shield System is a body temperature measuring system that instantly reads a person’s body temperature as they pass. It can read up to 30-people-per-second and will alert to anyone with an elevated temperature.
The volunteers spent hours sorting gifts into individuals packages for children which now be stored in a secret, but highly secure location, before their Christmas delivery.
Dee added: “We knew we need to do things differently but we aren’t going to allow something like Covid-19 to spoil Christmas for our children.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to the volunteers, to those who have donated and of course, to our wonderful supporters.
Supporters include Egerton FC, Red CCTV, Tom O’Donnell, St Lawrence’s GAA team, W & J Rigby Haulage, Max Waste & Joe Densley, Padgetts Bros, A to Z Toys, Stockton’s of Manchester, Continental Textiles, Network Plus, Liam Lee, Warehouse One, Equilibrium Wealth Management, Quinn Civils Singleton Trading, Storage World (Hale Barns)
* Donations can be made via: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/2020ToyAppeal