Secret Santa scheme brings Christmas cheer to children
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