Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade is back to give out thousands of free selection boxes to kids
3 months ago
Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade is preparing to hit the streets again, giving out well over 6,000 free selection boxes to kids across three nights.
This will be the fourth of Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade sleigh parade’s after it was launched in lockdown by friends Andrea Roberts, Franny Briggs and Jay Murray.
They came up with the idea so children wouldn’t have to miss out on seeing Santa even though grottos had to be cancelled.
It was such a success that Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade, which covers Tower Hill, Northwood, Southdene and West Vale, has become a festive fixture that’s looked forward to by families and brings the community together.
Now the sleigh, complete with bigger speakers, Santa and a cast of characters including new additions The Grinch and Buddy the Elf, are getting ready for this year’s event from Thursday December 14 to Saturday December 16.
And thanks to huge backing from local businesses, schools and residents, they’re on track to hand out thousands of selection boxes to children again en route.
Andrea says lots more companies have got involved in the 2023 Crusade.
“We’ve had some great support from the start, and this year even more businesses have come on board. Finer Engineering in Bootle, Citrus Group and Next Energy in Prescot have all given us big donations, and we’ve had so many others already, it’s amazing the way everyone comes together.
“We had one little girl, Nevaeh Todd who’s only 8, who made and sold reindeer dust poppers and raised enough to buy 200 selection boxes. That’s absolutely lovely, and just by doing that it means 200 more children will now get a selection box.”
Andrea says she’ll often be given stacks of chocolate by members of the local community who want to get involved and help however they can.
“I’ve had pensioners who’ve given me 20 and they’ll say, ‘sorry it’s not much’, but that’s a lot of money, especially with the rising cost of living for everyone, so we really appreciate every one we get.”
Andrea says people aren’t just generous with donations, they give their time too.
Volunteers help out marshalling the sleigh to keep everyone safe, and they dress as characters to add to the festive fun.
Two naughty elves throw selection boxes out for all the youngsters to catch as the parade makes its way through crowds, and this year there’ll be a couple of new faces joining the team.
“We’ve got some favourite characters from previous years and new for this year will be Buddy the Elf and also The Grinch from Real Life Grinch Visits, who’s donating his time for three nights which we’re really grateful for,” adds Andrea.
Also returning will be the Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade poster competition, where kids are invited to create a homemade poster to hold up during the parade. The sleigh will stop for a photo with each child which will then be uploaded after the event for judging. The top three will receive One4all vouchers, with £50 going to the winner, £30 to the runner-up and £20 to third place.
This year’s sleigh parade will be around Tower Hill on Thursday night from 6.30pm to 7.45pm, Northwood on Friday starting from Simonswood Lane at 6pm and ending around 8.10pm, then on Saturday it’s Southdene from 5pm and Westvale from approximately 7.15pm. Organisers will be posting the exact routes and timing updates on Facebook each night.
Andrea says they’re looking forward seeing it all happen again and the excitement on kids’ faces when the naughty elves go to work.
“When we first came up with this, we had no idea at all how it would grow. It does take a lot of effort behind the scenes sorting everything out, but we love it. Franny’s even got a Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade tattoo done, that’s how into it he is!”