A Bradford woman raised over 1100 Christmas gifts for children who have fled domestic violence.
Sarah Elizabeth, 35, who works at Bradford Royal Infirmary hospital, has embarked on her second fundraising drive to support KidsOut, a charity that works with children who have fled domestic violence living in a refuge.
People across Bradford and Leeds have donated to the gift appeal, with 20 gifts being donated on behalf of the charity Minhaj Welfare Foundation, part of Minhaj-ul-Quran International, based on Great Horton Road in BD7, and a day nursery in Leeds handing over 60 presents. One generous businessman from Bradford who wants to remain anonymous donated £200 in Smith’s vouchers for Ms Elizabeth to buy toys for the appeal.
Rizwan Rehman, a volunteer at Minhaj-UL-Quran in Bradford donated the gifts on behalf of the organisation. He said: “Minhaj-ul-Quran International is a worldwide organisation that promotes peace, integration and human rights and harmony between religions, cultures and communities regardless of faith or no faith.
“In Britain, we have 36 branches and I work as a volunteer in Bradford. As well as providing worldwide humanitarian aid, we support local causes, and I loved what KidsOut represents.
“We wanted to do our bit to bring a smile to the faces of young children who may never receive a gift over Christmas, so we donated what we can.”
Ms Elizabeth ran the gift drive for the first time last Christmas, receiving 685 toys and presents from colleagues, businesses, and community members to give to children through KidsOut. This year, she has received almost double at 1100 gifts and counting.
KidsOut encourages organisations and businesses to ‘Ditch Secret Santa’ and buy toys for children living in local refuge homes instead. The recipients are children who have escaped domestic violence, being forced to flee their homes quickly and leave all possessions behind.
According to the charity, as many as 20,000 children each year flee domestic abuse and seek sanctuary in a refuge. Typically leaving home with only the clothes on their back, these children have experienced physical, emotional, and even sexual abuse and arrive at refuge with nothing.
Having escaped the abuse for the safety of a refuge for anywhere between 6-12 months, roughly 4,000 of these children and their mothers are then relocated to a new home to start again.
Gifts have been donated through the hospital’s ‘Giving tree’. Ms Elizabeth set up a tree with gift tags from KidsOut that includes a child’s name, age, and what they would like for Christmas.
People take a tag, purchase the gift on the child’s wish list, and give it to Ms Elizabeth, ready for it to be sent out to the child to open on Christmas Day.
The gifts range from earphones and puzzles to baby bath toys, arts and crafts supplies, books, pens and pencils, and gift cards for older children.
Ms Elizabeth said, “I decided to raise and donate to KidsOut because no child should be without presents at Christmas time.
“I couldn’t imagine how they would feel thinking Santa Claus didn’t bring them presents. All children should be happy all year but especially at Christmas.
“I get very overwhelmed, but this year was just magical. Giving back to the community and giving back to people is so important to me. I am very lucky I have everything I could want and need, but some people are not as lucky.
“I know you cannot help everyone but as Mother Theresa once said, “if you judge people, you have no time to love them” and she also said a “life not lived for others is not a life” so I like to think am just doing God’s work.
I try my very best to give as much as I can. I love seeing people happy and seeing smiles on their faces, there is no better feeling. I feel very humble to do this every year and I will continue to do it.
“I hope these gifts bring the children happiness, joy and just know that they are loved.”
To give a child a Christmas gift through KidsOut, you can visit their shop here.