‘We’ve had a Christmas miracle,’ say world-record breaking Kindness Offensive
PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 December 2012
It’s going to a take a mammoth effort from hundreds of volunteers armed with one kilometre of wrapping paper and 1,000 rolls of sticky tape.
But one of the biggest toy drives ever seen will be going ahead this year thanks to a Christmas miracle.
Two weeks ago the warehouse of the Kindness Offensive – a group who organise world record-breaking “acts of random kindness” – stood empty.
Last year it delivered more than 4,000 toys to orphans across London but when Barclays Bank withdrew its support for this year’s present drive, the group’s Christmas cupboard was suddenly bare.
The West Hampstead-based group, who have handed out thousands of flowers to strangers in Trafalgar Square and given tonnes of food to refugees, never gave up hope – and last week it celebrated the miracle it needed.
Three companies stepped in to donate three times more money than the group has ever raised before. Now, a record £36,000 will be going towards mountains of toys, which will be given to children who have no family or to parents who cannot afford gifts at Christmas.
Though the group appeal to businesses to help out in the community, one West Hampstead man was so struck by its plight that he hand-picked 100 toys himself.
Paul Rawlinson, who lives in Maygrove Road, said: “My girlfriend and I went to buy 100 gifts. We went to Poundland and they have some decent toys.
“We picked ones in nice packages and without batteries, and then we struggled home with all of them in the back of the car.”
He added: “It doesn’t cost a huge amount but to think that 100 children will get presents...
“These children are either orphans or unwell, and they’ve got nobody. The thought that they would get nothing on Christmas morning was heartbreaking.”
He added: “I saw the story and I thought it was a really good cause.”
In fact, the response has been so good the Kindness Offensive is now looking for charities in north London in need of some extra help this year.
David Goodfellow, one of the four founders of the Kindness Offensive, said: “Hammerson Plc, a property development company, gave over a quarter of the money and they want to deal with north London specifically.”
He added: “We’re looking at smaller charities in the area because those are the ones that are really struggling.”
Hammerson, who work in north London, has also pledged its support for the next two years.
Chief executive, David Atkins, said: “We are thrilled that our donation means The Kindness Offensive can continue its excellent work.”
However, that work is not over. At the crack of dawn next Thursday, hundreds of volunteers will start wrapping the mountains of presents at its warehouse, which they have nicknamed ‘Santa’s grotto’.
As Mr Goodfellow explained: “I feel like I’m in a Christmas movie – maybe not one I’d like to watch but the incredible generosity and speed of all this really is a Christmas miracle!”