Our Christmas appeal brought a touch of magic
thanks to our supporters’ wonderful generosity!
In December we asked for your help in adding some Christmas sparkle to the lives of local disadvantaged children with additional needs.
Your response was truly heart-warming, and allowed us to provide some brilliant ability-appropriate gifts, delivered directly from Santa at the Funtastic Children’s Club run by Crossroads Care, Surrey.
When we delivered the gifts I met a lovely lady called Dionne Hilton who’s been working for Crossroads for three years. She told me “I thoroughly enjoy it; I really believe in what we stand for as a charity and what we do at the Funtastic Children’s Club, and I’m also very lucky to have such an amazing team of play support workers.”
I asked Dionne about her specific work with Crossroads and she explained it to me like this:
“At the Children’s Club we support carers by giving them a break for 5 hours on a Saturday (all year except Easter and Christmas). We do this by looking after their child and making sure that their child has a fun enjoyable day in a safe environment, so that parents can have a much needed break to relax or spend quality time with their other children or partners; this helps support the parents to continue to care for their child.
The children we support may have autism, ADHD, physical disabilities, and complex health needs. We support the children on a 1 to 1 basis due to their needs, and we get a lot of positive feedback from parents.”
Did everyone like the presents?
Dionne described what a pleasure it was to watch the children open their presents because they absolutely loved them.
Their parents were also delighted, and all said how kind it was of All Stars to bring some extra joy into their children’s lives, especially after the dreadful year we’ve just been through.
“The children showed their reactions in different ways, for example, one child jumped up and down with excitement as it was exactly what he wanted, where another child would just have a smile on their face or hug the present.”
One parent of a child with Global Development Delay and Multi-Sensory Impairments sent this message: “Please thank them for the lovely gift that was very appreciated and appropriate for her needs.”
Another parent with 2 children, both autistic, sent this message: “Just wanted to let you know that S and D loved their hover balls they were given by Autism All Stars.
S loves passing it to us and D is fascinated by the flashing lights on it and the noise it makes. Please feel free to use the photos of them getting their presents from Santa, and please thank them for the lovely gifts.”
I really enjoyed choosing individually- tailored presents for each child, and making sure they were easy to open was an absolute must. My own children find it incredibly frustrating if their toys can’t be played with as soon as they’re unwrapped, so the way they were presented was a top priority.
Dionne said this about the difference it made on the day:
“I was amazed at how great the toys were, there was so much thought that had gone into them; all I gave Helen was a list of names and activities they enjoyed, and she went out and brought them some really lovely gifts, tailored to the individual child and their needs.
Helen had also taken the gifts out of the packaging and already inserted the batteries so that the child could open the gift and play with it straight away. This took away any frustrations that could upset and distress them.
We all know how hard it is for any child to wait while a toy is taken out of the wrapper, especially when they are held in with plastic ties etc, and then waiting longer for the batteries to be inserted. It is even harder for a child with special needs to understand the long wait. It was great and it was lovely to have someone who understood how this would have distressed the children.”
How will we help in the future?
Dionne mentioned that because of the Covid pandemic they’d had to throw away the majority of toys from their Children’s Club, because they weren’t able to be cleaned after every use, so they only had a very small stock left. She was naturally concerned this would have a negative impact on the children’s development, and told me:
“The children we care for have been making small progresses over the years and I feel (and parent feedback confirms) that we help to support them in making these small progresses. The equipment and toys we use help us to achieve this. Having more interactive toys that we can use will definitely help us to continue with this support.”
We’ve therefore donated a whole host of ability-appropriate toys and equipment for them to use as soon as their club reopens after lockdown.
All charities are struggling at the moment, and it’s fair to say that we’re finding things very difficult ourselves, but as long as we’re still going, we’re determined to bring as much joy, laughter and magic into people’s lives, and offer them as much support as we possibly can, so it’s lovely to hear Dionne say this:
“We are extremely grateful that you chose us to donate to, especially in the current climate. Thank you so much Helen and Autism All Stars.”
If you’d like to help us raise even more funds to support fantastic causes like this one, just follow this link for lots of easy (and often completely free) online ideas: FUNDRAISE FOR ALL STARS
On a personal note: many years ago, when I was a single parent with no family or friends, and three very young autistic boys, the help and kindness I received from Crossroads made a huge difference to our lives. I’ve never forgotten what they did for us, and I can wholeheartedly recommend contacting them if you’re a carer who needs some support.
Follow this link to find out more about how they can help you: CROSSROADS CARE, SURREY