Corby woman's early Christmas wish

A Corby woman who has made hundreds of children's Christmas wishes come true has already launched her December 2020 gift appeal.

Saturday, 11th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 8:48 am
Cat's gifts go to families who are struggling with their finances

Priors Hall estate resident Cat Schofield started her giving in 2018 and in two years she has helped more than 270 children and adults with her presents.

Using her own money and gifts from friends, neighbours and strangers, Cat has now started collecting items for this Christmas.

She said: "I don't think there is enough kindness in the world. I moved to Corby from London seven years ago and the people are so much kinder and nicer here.

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Cat Schofield with daughter Evelyn with some of the presents given out last Christmas

"There is huge generosity. I've had people, who I've never met before, knock on my door with a huge bag of brand new toys. A week later they're back with another bag. A week after that they turn up with £100 in cash.

"Corby people are really great. I have never met people like it."

From donating her first two hampers filled with gifts for the children supporting a Corby family who had lost everything in a house fire, the stay-at-home mum-of-three went on the make-up bundles of presents distributed through charity Homestart.

In 2019 she started her Christmas gift collection in October, but she kicked off her 2020 appeal with her first donation being made on Boxing Day.

Cat and her husband Alisdair collect donations from in and around Corby

Her Priors Hall home had become a grotto with every nook and cranny filled with gifts.

All the donations are bundled together to make a generous present including colouring pencils, a colouring book, an age-specific toy, sweets and sometimes a pair of fluffy socks.

Cat gives out the parcels to parents who are struggling to buy presents for their children.

Some of the families are nominated by a friend, neighbour or family member or sometimes the parent contacts her directly.

Any money donated goes to buy bigger toys

Cat said: "It does go on trust. I have had people crying on my doorstep saying they haven't got anything to give their children.

"One lady was working full-time and had to give up her job to care for her partner who had mental health issues. She was put on Universal Credit.

"Another family I know, the husband works full-time but they still have to go to the food bank. It's awful and makes me feel sad.

"I helped a single dad who was looking for some CDs for his daughter so she could play them on the second-hand CD player he had got her."

A typical present

Now Cat, 33, has teamed-up with two other Corby women, Shannon Dolling and Meryl Farrow to make the 2020 Gift of Christmas even bigger and better.

The group have already hit the sales to buy goodies out of their own money and from donated funds.

Using space provided by a friend in Gretton, the toys can be stored securely away from Cat's house, which she shares with IT consultant husband Alisdair, 34 and children Theo, seven, four-year-old Seb and Evelyn, three.

Cat added: "It could be anything - a colouring book, a packet of sweets - it all adds up.

"It's just sharing the kindness. No child deserves to wake up on Christmas morning and have nothing to open."

Donations can be made through the Gift of Christmas Facebook page.

Donations come from friends, family, neighbours and anonymously