DEE & CHRIS DRAKE
The Toy Appeal
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