Se­cret Santa scheme brings Christ­mas cheer to chil­dren

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS - LIZ PERKINS liz.perkins@waleson­

A SE­CRET Santa scheme to help make sure vul­ner­a­ble and un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren get Christ­mas presents has ex­panded to Rhondda Cynon Taff for the first time.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic are once again be­ing urged to sup­port this year’s Mr X Ap­peal, now in its 58th year, among the ris­ing use of food­banks and chil­dren liv­ing in poverty.

The pop­u­lar project cur­rently runs in Neath Port Tal­bot, Swansea, and Car­marthen­shire but has now spread into two new ar­eas.

De­mand has al­ready surged with more 4,000 names put for­ward for presents, high­light­ing the eco­nomic si­t­u­a­tion fam­i­lies are find­ing them­selves in this year.

“There seems to be more and more com­ing along all the time and refugees are com­ing into it as well now,” The Mr X team said.

“We have had just over 4,000 names so far and, at this point, that is very high.

“We are work­ing flat out and are still get­ting lots of names in and this year it is go­ing to be the big­gest yet as we are go­ing fur­ther afield to Brid­gend and Rhondda Cynon Taff.

“We need the pub­lic to come for­ward and do­nate gifts – the de­mand is high and we don’t want to dis­ap­point any­one.”

Many of the chil­dren who re­ceive gifts may not oth­er­wise get any.

MP Car­olyn Har­ris said she was “pray­ing” peo­ple sup­port the cam­paign this year. “Mr X has al­ways had a fan­tas­tic re­sponse.

“I was told in the sum­mer it was go­ing to take a ham­mer­ing this year. It’s a vic­tim of its own suc­cess.

“It was never in­tended to be but it has be­come a crutch and the only way kids can get a present at Christ­mas. Fam­i­lies are de­pend­ing on it.”

The team be­hind Mr X is al­ready tak­ing names from child care agen­cies who will need presents to brighten up their fes­tive sea­son.

They said: “Sup­port­ers buy what they can af­ford such as new toys, books and the like and de­liver to one of our col­lec­tion points.

“If you have a num­ber of names we will or­gan­ise col­lec­tion from you around the first and sec­ond week of De­cem­ber.

“You could even be­come the Mr or Mrs X of your work­place and or­gan­ise the ap­peal through your work col­leagues, tak­ing lists of names from us, which con­tain the child’s fore­name, ref­er­ence num­ber, age, and whether they are a boy or girl.

“Last year we were able to sup­ply gifts to more than 4,500 lo­cal chil­dren, thanks to the kind-hearted peo­ple of south west Wales.

“Sup­port­ers range from in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, work col­leagues to schools and busi­nesses.”

They added: “We ask that presents are put in Christ­mas-style bags or the like with the child’s name and ref­er­ence num­ber on the out­side, mak­ing it per­sonal to that child.

“It was al­ways Mr X’s aim that only the ap­peal gets the pub­lic­ity, not the in­di­vid­ual, and we are proud to keep his wishes go­ing.”

Last year was the cam­paign’s first with­out orig­i­nal Mr X, Tom Bravin, whose iden­tity re­mained a se­cret up un­til his death at the age of 92 in March 2016.

Mr Bravin re­ceived the MBE from the Queen for his many years of fundrais­ing.

The team be­hind Mr X said un­der no cir­cum­stances do they ac­cept cash, only gifts.

Any­one who wants to help sup­port the ap­peal can call the Mr X team on 01792 863400 or visit the Mr X Christ­mas Ap­peal Face­book page.

The se­cret Santa scheme, started by Tom Bravin, inset, has ex­panded to the Rhondda Cynon Taff area

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