Thousands of Christmas gifts have been donated and delivered to less fortunate children, thanks to Didcot’s answer to Father Christmas.

Play2Give founder Andrew Baker, 32 has been running the Sleigh2Give campaign for six years.

The former St Birinus School, Didcot, pupil has tirelessly been raising money for the children’s hospital and other good causes since 2003 when he was just 14.

He now collects, delivers, and distributes presents with an army of helpers and volunteers to a range of local charities.

These charities include Headway, Footsteps, the children’s hospital, neonatal care areas and the family accommodation at the John Radcliffe, Be Free Young Carers, two branches of Home Start, and for the first time Cradle and Sobell House.

The Sleigh2Give drive was created out of an initial one-off fundraiser in December 2015, when Mr Baker teamed up with Sainsbury’s Didcot employee Lee Crook to collect and deliver three sacks full of Christmas presents for the children on the wards at the Oxford Children’s Hospital that Christmas.

The appeal became so popular that last year saw £50,000 worth of Christmas presents given out to children, families and the vulnerable in the community.

This year due to coronavirus Mr Baker was unable to hand out gifts at the children’s hospital, so instead he donated £600 through the Sleigh2Give campaign to the hospital so gifts can be purchased. The money will also go towards the elderly patients that are spending their Christmas at hospital.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Baker said: “Although I missed my annual present and toy drop this year it has been great to be able to donate in terms of funds and that will help. At least no child in hospital this Christmas will go without something because we have helped to fund presents for them.”

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Despite it being a tough year for many families more gifts than ‘elf’ Baker cannot count how many gifts have been donated to the campaign.

Mr Baker said: “It has been like ‘elf’ Baker’s grotto again in the front room and in my shed as well. In our front room we have just about managed to sit down on our sofa. It has been brilliant again. I thought it would be quiet this year but, I still have lots of gifts.”

Oxford Mail:

So many gifts have been donated to the cause that Mr Baker and the Sleigh2Give team will be able to continue delivering gifts in January.

Donations were made by schools in the area including St Birinus, Abingdon netball club also made donations despite not being able to play any matches this year. The Didcot Mini Festive Market raised £1,110 for Play2Give and there was record breaking Christmas raffle which raised £845 in just two weeks from Raffle sales.

Sleigh2Give donated gifts to the Didcot food bank after parents were making requests as they could not afford to buy presents for their children this year.

The charity Home Start Southern Oxfordshire received a gift delivery for 75 children and the Oxford branch received 200 new story books and even more presents.

MP David Johnston has been giving Mr Baker a hand with delivering presents. Mr Baker said: “David has been great; he has been amazing support as a patron. He has been doing the deliveries as well. It is really nice to see a local MP getting involved and wanting to help .”

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