Today’s columnist, Harry Harpham, MP: You’ve made a difference

Christmas time is always hectic, what with putting up decorations and present buying, party planning and visiting relatives.

Allan Ogle from Hallam FM with some of the toys collected for the Mission Christmas campaign
Allan Ogle from Hallam FM with some of the toys collected for the Mission Christmas campaign

But amid all the hubbub and excitement, it’s only right to stop for a moment and spare a thought for those for whom Christmas is not a time of festive fun, but an added financial burden.

The sad fact is that thanks to budget cuts, welfare reform and zero hours contracts leaving families without a guaranteed income, thousands of parents across our region will have to place heating and putting food on the table ahead of buying presents for their children this Christmas.

That’s why I’m so proud to be an ambassador for Hallam FM’s Cash for Kids charity, whose Mission Christmas aims to ensure that no child across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw wakes up without gifts on Christmas morning.

They’re expecting to help more than 18,000 children this year. The thought of that many children where we live not having any gifts to wake up to is heart-breaking, but this campaign provides the opportunity for anyone to help in a variety of ways and to make an incredible difference to a child’s Christmas.

More than 200 local schools and businesses have signed up as drop-off points for donated gifts, and over 100 volunteers have been involved in making the whole operation tick.

People from across Sheffield and beyond have been incredibly generous with their donations, with the result that nearly 60,000 gifts have been provided to those children whose families are most in need of that extra support to make Christmas special.

The campaign has involved tens of thousands of people; employees of local businesses, schools, community groups, Hallam FM listeners and Star readers all making a difference.

Fundraising events to buy gifts, businesses donating directly or people simply sending a text message have made, and still can make, a massive difference to a child that is likely within a stones-throw from their home who otherwise wouldn’t receive anything.

You can still send a text message to Cash for Kids that will make a difference. Text HALLAM to 70808 to donate £5.

So a big thank you to everyone who has volunteered and donated. Your actions have helped bring a little bit of festive magic into the lives of so many young people in our area.

And finally, to everyone in Sheffield I wish a hearty Merry Christmas.