Christmas gift giving charity expands to include children in Hatfield

Two women who set up A Christmas Wish charity in Welwyn Garden City wearing blue surgical masks

Co-founders, WGC residents and good pals Claire and Sian doing the present run last year. - Credit: Sian Caullay

The festive present donation charity, A Christmas Wish, will now serve children in Hatfield as well as Welwyn Garden City after the success of its first year has led its founders to expand their services. 

Co-founders and NHS employees Sian Caullay, 33, and Claire Burke, 44, became friends 10 years ago while they were working at Welwyn Garden City's QE II hospital.

They set up A Christmas Wish in October 2020, when Sian was on maternity leave from her job at an urgent treatment centre in London.

Sian recalled having the idea while sitting on her sofa during the pandemic, watching daily COVID-19 updates. "Lots of people were out of work and, you know, struggling financially and I decided that I wanted to help in some way," she said.

She wanted to set up a gift-giving service for "average folk in the community" in Welwyn Garden City because there weren't any initiatives like that which helped families who weren't staying in hostels for example.

The first year was "a big success". In 2020, thanks to all of their supporters who got involved, A Christmas Wish was able to gift over 100 presents to children in WGC and women at the St Albans Women's Refuge.

A Christmas Wish's process protects the anonymity of the children. Parents who want to use their service fill out a form for each child, writing their name, their child's age, three interests and their child's gender if they want to.

Then, Sian and Claire generate a gift request list that goes live on December 1. Those who want to help visit their website on this date and choose which anonymous child  they want to buy for. Once the person has bought the gift for a child, they deliver it to one of A Christmas Wish's drop boxes.

Bags of Christmas presents underneath a white Christmas tree.

Presents under the tree. - Credit: Sian Caullay

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Sian and Claire pick up the presents and like Santa drop them off at each family's address in time for Christmas.

Testimonials from their recently launched website indicate just how much A Christmas Wish helped families last year. 

One parent said: "The children were very happy with their gifts everyone was so kind. It blew me away at how kind people were at a time where I didn't know if I could feed myself or how much money I had, it did take the pressure off. I am forever grateful and it took a lot for me to reach out so massive massive thank you." 

"Considering that Covid is very much still here and people are still struggling we decided to continue the initiative and also to branch out to Hatfield as well," Sian explained.

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