Santa shows support for Chichester Christmas gift appeal | Vicky Meets

Vicky meets... Santa.

• I understand that you’re paying a flying visit to Chichester soon. Can you tell me more?

Ho ho ho! Yes, indeed! Actually, it’s Donnington that I will be visiting specifically (although I am hoping to have time to pop into the city to pick up some scent for Mrs Santa while I’m there). I’m in Donnington Hall car park on Sunday, November 28, to take presents from people.

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• Whoa! You’ll be taking gifts from people – surely that’s the reverse of what Santa does?


Quite so, my little mince pie. But the good people of St George’s in Donnington have come up with a splendid idea: with so many homeless and disadvantaged families in the area, they want to work with the community by asking for toys and gifts for a charity to pass on to families in need of some festive cheer. So they are linking with The Rotary Club of Chichester Harbour’s ECHO Project (Enabling Communities with Help and Opportunities), who last year distributed Christmas sacks to 362 families. The need is anticipated to be even greater this year.

• How will it work?

On November 7 bright, colourful tags will be tied to the green mesh fence in the Donnington Hall car park, upon which there will be ideas for gifts that would be appreciated. Take a tag, buy the gift and then bring it to me at the hall (unwrapped) on November 28. Then we will light the Tree of Hope at 5pm. We will also have a few carols, mince pies and mulled wine, although sadly none of the latter for me, as I’ll be driving the sleigh home. I’ll drop the gifts off to the ECHO Project’s HQ on the way back. From there they will be assigned to families by the project’s elves. Anyone who can’t make it on the 28th can drop off gifts at the Vicarage (34 Graydon Avenue) beforehand.

• What do you love most about your job?

I love the happiness Christmas brings, but also the generosity. The Tree of Hope Gift Appeal is a great example of giving with a grateful and happy heart. Buying a pair of warm gloves, a box of biscuits or a toy may not be a very difficult thing to do for some people, but for others it will be impossible. To share a little of what we have at Christmas time is what the true spirit of the season is all about. And I’ll tell you a secret: It makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you give rather than receive.

• What are you hoping for this Christmas?

Mrs Santa always knits me new socks, which I love – they’re so cosy! I’d also quite like Billy Connolly’s new autobiography and a new beard trimmer. Otherwise all I want is for everyone to be healthy, happy and kind. Kindness is so important, especially at Christmas.

• To find out more about the Gift Appeal please email [email protected]