Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade launches appeal to collect 7,000 selection boxes to give free to kids
11 months ago
Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade has launched an appeal to try and collect 7,000 selection boxes to give out free to kids on this year’s Santa sleigh tour.
The crusade has been bringing festive happiness to Kirkby since 2020 when friends Andrea Roberts, Franny Briggs and Jay Murray came up with the idea after grottos were cancelled in lockdown.
Last year they gave out an incredible 6,800 selection boxes over four nights, with an extra 200 going to Southdene grotto.
Now with plans well underway for this year’s event, they’re hoping to collect the same again to put a smile on thousands of children’s faces in the run-up to Christmas.
Andrea explains: “It is an ambitious target, and we obviously know there’s a national cost of living crisis on so we were hesitant about doing the collection this year, but people in the community have said we should go ahead.
“Last year we had amazing support including an electrical company called Citrus who actually reached out to all their stakeholders saying they were on a mission to help – they managed to get 1,400 boxes and they’ve put out a call again for us.
“Asda in Huyton have helped with donations for the past two years, so we’ve applied again for that and another company in Kirkby called MJS Joinery helped last year so we worked closely with him to collect boxes.”
Andrea has also managed to get extra support through the Kirkby Collaborative for Schools.
“There are 11 primary schools in Kirkby and about 90% of them get onboard now so we get hundreds of selection boxes collected from each one, making about 3,000 in total from all the schools.”
Anyone wanting to donate this year can either contact Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade through their Facebook page to arrange collection – Andrea’s currently doing pick-ups every Thursday evening – or they can be dropped off at schools or Grafiks hair salon in Kirkby town centre.
This year’s Crusade will cover five areas in Kirkby over three nights. Thursday December 15 will be Tower Hill, it’s Northwood and Field Lane on Friday December 16 and then Southdene and Westvale on the Saturday December 17.
Each route takes about four hours and Andrea gives updates of their location via Facebook so families know when to look out for them.
With no cash funding, Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade uses its own costumes for the Santa parade and there’ll be a brand-new sleigh this year after the old one met a soggy end!
“When we got it out of storage, it had been water damaged in the lock-up so it had rotted and fallen apart,” says Andrea. “We’ve had to get a new sleigh specially made this year and The Fireplace Centre in St Helens has sponsored that, along with an anonymous supporter, so hopefully it’ll be bigger and better than the previous two years.”
As well as handing out the donated selection boxes, there’ll also be an art competition which kids going to see Santa can take part in.
“We ask the kids to make posters for us, they just come out as the sleigh goes past to get them photographed and then we get an independent judge to go through the gallery – last year the winner was chosen our local councillor, Marie Stewart.
“We have a supporter who sponsors Smyths Toys gift vouchers for us to give as prizes, so there’s a £50 one for the winner and two £25 ones for runners-up.”
Andrea says although it’s only in its third year, Kirkby’s Christmas Crusade has become a community event that the whole area looks forward to.
“A lot of people voted for us and we were winners in the Local Community Heroes Awards last March which was really nice, and I think the Crusade has really established itself now.
“Everyone is so supportive and we’re really appreciative of any donation. One selection box or 300, it doesn’t matter, we know the community’s involved and behind us.”