DEE & CHRIS DRAKE

The Toy Ap­peal

Cheshire Life - - Goodwill To All -

How many Christ­mas presents will you buy this year? For Chris and Dee Drake from Knutsford, the fig­ure will be around 40,000. The cou­ple run a char­ity called The Toy Ap­peal, pro­vid­ing presents for 5,000 dis­ad­van­taged and vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren across the north west. They be­gan vol­un­teer­ing for the ap­peal in

2012 - that first year fill­ing around 250 bags. The next year they took it over and since then have grown it ex­po­nen­tially, work­ing year round rais­ing funds, col­lect­ing dona­tions and ac­tu­ally buy­ing the presents them­selves. ‘We start on Box­ing Day be­cause even though we’ve only had Christ­mas Day off the sales are the best chance to buy lots,’ ex­plains Dee. The cou­ple, both free­lance IT con­sul­tants, know the names, ages and par­tic­u­lar needs of each child and the bags of eight presents are per­son­alised es­pe­cially for them. It’s an in­cred­i­ble feat of com­mit­ment and or­gan­i­sa­tion with around 200 vol­un­teers help­ing to pack and de­liver the bags.

‘I think if I’d known how big it would be­come, I might never have started,’ laughs Dee. ‘Each year I think it can’t get any big­ger but there’s al­ways an­other child in need and you can’t say no.’ Dee says it’s good for her be­cause she ‘gets eas­ily bored’ but there is a deeper mo­ti­va­tion at work. ‘Chris and I can’t have chil­dren and that cer­tainly has some­thing to do with it. This makes Christ­mas a bit more en­joy­able, it feels like it’s what Christ­mas should be about.’ thetoy­ap­peal.com

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