21 December 2014
Manchester, you’re an amazing city.
When the team from Key103 launched Mission Christmas from UKFast HQ back in November, the excitement and anticipation were definitely thick in the air, but we could never have imagined quite how drastically you would exceed our expectations.
In 2013, the campaign raised £1.3m worth of toys, helping 32,000 children at a time of year when nobody should feel alone and uncared for.
However, this year you smashed that target with over £1.6m worth of toys donated.
We hosted the big reveal on our big screen outside the office on Princess Parkway – making sure that Manchester couldn’t miss it and everyone coming down one of the busiest roads to the city centre could see what at extraordinarily generous place this city is.
Whilst I couldn’t be there, as I was overseeing the big re-opening of Le Farinet, I spoke with the team in the office who have done an incredible job running everything Mission Christmas from our end – and could hear the emotion in their voices. It’s been a long week for everybody involved in the campaign, especially for all of the volunteers at the Arco warehouse, where donations were received, sorted and packed up.
In addition to volunteers from the UKFast team, there were plenty of people from other local businesses, as well as members of the police and fire service, all dressed in high visibility jackets and lots of layers, running around with big bags full of toys.
From charities to children’s hospitals, hundreds of organisations had applied for toys, the number amounting to thousands of children. That’s thousands of children in our city – in our communities – who live below the poverty line.
It’s a heart-breaking truth, but what Mission Christmas means is that these children will feel the jolt of excitement we all enjoy on Christmas morning. It doesn’t solve the root problem, but it ensures all of these kids, who find themselves in these circumstances through no fault of their own, don’t suffer on a day that’s traditionally all about family and giving.
You, the people of Manchester, have made sure this doesn’t happen, and your generosity and passion has been overwhelming. Trust me, I’ve spoken to the team who helped out at the warehouse, and many of them were brought to tears last week.
As a father of three, I’ve got to admit, there were times when I felt choked reading about the campaign on the news or receiving updates from the team back at UKFast Campus. I can’t imagine how the parents and families of these children must feel at the thought of a Christmas without presents.
I’ve often said that one person has the power to make a colossal difference. Well, a whole team of people working together can change the world.
Well done to everybody in Manchester, especially the team at Key103 who make Mission Christmas happen. I promised you a gallery of “elfies” earlier this week, so I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures of our UKFast elves hard at work.