A REAL-life Santa’s grotto is in full operation, thanks to a kind-hearted couple.
Husband and wife duo Geoff and Margaret Williams, 66 and 64, from Flint, set up voluntary organisation North Wales Superkids in 1999, with the help of local foster parents.
The organisation helps to bring the magic of Christmas to children by giving deprived youngsters toys for Christmas, all donated by generous businesses and individuals.
Geoff said: “A number of agencies, such as social services, will refer children in need to us. Their referral forms will tell us some details about them, such as their interests, their age and sex, then we will make up a big carrier bag full of toys suited to the child.
“It just helps the child’s parents get them something decent, which they might not otherwise have been able to. In many cases, that’s all they will get.”
The couple spend hours tirelessly sorting the gift parcels and “every nook and cranny” in their home is filled with toys.
“I often answer the phone with ‘Santa’s North Wales Grotto’, there’s always so much stuff here,” Geoff added.
Margaret, who used to work for social services as a parent support worker, would come into regular contact with families living below the poverty line.
“I had a very good boss who would always encourage me to help wherever I could and I’ve just carried on. We don’t do this alone – we have a whole team of ‘elves’ helping us,” she said.
Last year Superkids sent out 1,320 gift bags to children in the local area, and Margaret anticipates that this year, the total will reach the 1,400 mark.
“We’ve still only scratched the surface of the level of need out there. It’s terrifying. People are having their houses repossessed and their homes just taken away.”
Superkids relies on donations from the local community, as well as businesses.
“We’re very well supported by 20th Century Fox – they send us merchandise like pyjamas, T-shirts and underwear. This year we’ve also been very lucky, we’ve had some lovely things donated from local businesses,” she added.
The charity group, a member of the Flintshire Local Voluntary Council, was awarded an MBE in its own right in 2003 for its services to families in need in the community.
“We’re doing very well with it. There hasn’t been a single year when we haven’t done better than the year before,” said Geoff.
Margaret added: “Just knowing that we’ve made a difference to a child – seeing the smile on their faces, and the difference that it makes to them – both the parents and children. Seeing a parent smile can mean just as much as seeing a child smile.
“Living in a difficult situation can darken a day. If we can bring a little bit of light to somebody’s day then we’re doing our job.”