Selfless Kettering boy fundraising to help the homeless this Christmas after telling Santa he doesn't want a present

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He took part in a charity run dressed as Father Christmas to help a homeless centre

A Kettering boy is raising money to help rough sleepers after telling Santa he would rather the homeless were fed than receive a present for himself.

Selfless eight-year-old Thomas Howley pledged to run 5km in a full Father Christmas costume on Sunday (December 17) in a bid to help Northampton’s Hope Centre.

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His dad Gareth was left stunned when his son visited the big man himself at a grotto and, completely out of the blue, told him he didn’t want a present but instead wanted the homeless to have food and warmth over the festive period – leaving Santa ‘a bit lost’ and his elves crying.

Thomas in the Father Christmas costume he is running 5km in.Thomas in the Father Christmas costume he is running 5km in.
Thomas in the Father Christmas costume he is running 5km in.

Gareth, 40, said: “I didn’t expect it. He’s at the age where you expect them to ask for a Meta Quest or something like that. I was blown away.

"He is a really sweet boy but you don’t expect a child to turn down presents.”

They then went home and Thomas and his dad spoke about doing something else to help instead. With Gareth taking part in a charity run next year, Thomas decided to do something similar and looked at charities online before picking the Hope Centre, which helps the homeless with food, clothing, hot showers and hot drinks.

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He set himself an ambitious fundraising target of £430, which pays for half a day of service at the homeless centre over Christmas, and had planned to take part in a 2km Santa run in Rothwell. That was cancelled so he took part in running 5km in a Santa outfit with his dad in Buckingham at the weekend.

Thomas has already smashed his target and raised £500 online. His school, Cranford Primary School, will also be holding a mufti day to raise money for the centre.

Gareth said: "Every morning he wakes up and says ‘daddy how much have I raised now?’

"He’s not thinking about it in money terms, he’s thinking about how long it can help them to open. I’m so proud.”

To donate to Thomas’ cause, visit his fundraising page at