Everyone deserves a gift at Christmas, which is why a retired social worker has stepped in as Mrs Claus for almost 20 years.
Margaret Williams, of Flint, launched what she calls “a crisis intervention charity” in 1999 after dealing with “too many” deprived families during her 33 years in social care across North Wales.
Her charity, Superkids, aims to ensure that children from families unable to afford any gifts at Christmas receive a bag of presents on Christmas morning.
Margaret said: “Life throws things at certain families. People suffer major illnesses, deaths or redundancy in the months leading up to Christmas.
“Some children and families are victims of domestic violence, low income, or absent fathers and the kids think to themselves on Christmas morning, ‘What have I done to not deserve a present?’”
While Margaret emphasises they are not a charity which helps Christmas for every family, she and her group of volunteers work tirelessly to support families living on the breadline “in any way we can.”
Over the years, Margaret’s appeal has gained support from the public, local businesses and local authorities.
In 2016, Superkids received a grant of £5,000 from Flintshire Council, but has always relied on the support of residents and community groups.
She said she would be unable to spread Christmas kindness without the help from Wepre CP School, Ysgol Glan Aber in Bagillt, Rhyl White Rose Cenre, Mancot Pensioners, and the Village Church in Mancot.
Large businesses have also been on board for many years, including Deeside Ramtech, Aerospace in Broughton and Kingspan in Holywell.
Margaret said: “I used to have ongoing targets and was very clever about my fundraising. I used to make graphs and business plans, and would try and plan with other agencies.
“But it never works that way. There are an increasing amount of children who need our help. People are affected by benefit changes and are in dire straits because their payments are witheld while they are reassessed.
“People don’t have crises to suit us as and when. We can’t predict how many children need the bags and it isn’t until January that we will see how many children we helped that year.”
The Superkids team estimate they will still be sorting and sending out bags up until Christmas Eve.
“A few weeks back the shelves were looking really healthy, but by now they look quite depleted as they have all been bagged up and ready to go out. We can never have enough presents.”
The hardest part for Margaret is allocating donated gifts to boys around eight-years-old as “they’re mainly into computer games and we don’t want to focus on that.” She added that boys can be a “nightmare” because girls tend to appreciate a wider variety of gifts, according to her experience.
Superkids’ new and larger unit in Mold, which she traded in in September for her previous garden shed, “has made all the difference”.
She said: “It means we can go up, put stuff on the shelves and not damage or shove bunches of things everywhere. We can filter in a more congenial way. Before, it was a lack of space and asking that person whether they could come today to collect the bag because we couldn’t do another until that one had gone. We can fill more bags at a time now and move them out quicker.”
Apart from sifting through new toys that are donated, or buying brand new gifts with cash donations, Margaret has also teamed up with Childflight, a charity which provides flights and holidays for ill or deserving children.
Earlier this month Margaret accompanied a group of children from across North Wales to Manchester airport where they received “gifts, games and nibbles” before meeting their favourite character and boarding a short flight.
Margaret explained: “The idea is to go in search of Santa on the plane. You can imagine hyper children who are even more hyper when they’re told that the louder they are, the more likely Santa is to hear them.”
During the flight the plane wobbles, which is allegedly “Santa landing on the roof”. When the children look out the window, Santa has “already hopped off” and is waiting in his grotto at Manchester airport to hand out gifts to the children. Margaret said: “The stories they come back with are amazing. Last year this one little laddie said seven or eight reindeers were being “ever so naughty” and licking the windows of the plane. How he came up with that I don’t know, but it was amazing.
“One little girl didn’t want to go at first, but once she went she couldn’t stop saying she had been to Care Bear Land up in the clouds.”
Margaret said she will continue to support children “as long as I’m breathing”.
Despite cheering up children at Christmas for 18 years, she said: “I never get the reasons why we’re needed. Realistically, this shouldn’t happen, but thank God we are able to help.
“We must be doing something right. We try and change the situation of children’s lives which is not a permanent change, as we can’t give them a home or a family. But we can bring smiles instead of tears and enrich children’s lives at Christmas.”
n To support Superkids with cash or gift donations, or to organise your own fundraiser, contact Margaret at firstname.lastname@example.org.