Schoolboy’s generosity helps share joy of Christmas
published on 5 Dec 2022
A 10-year-old boy is determined to share the joy of Christmas by collecting donations for The Salvation Army’s Present Appeal which ensures vulnerable children have something to open on Christmas Day.
Using his pocket money to get started, Oscar, from Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, told his mum he wanted to collect gifts for youngsters who might not have anything to open on Christmas morning.
So far, he has collected more than 200 gifts including toys, dolls, baby items, jigsaws, and books which will be donated to Batley Salvation Army.
Oscar’s mum Emma Sheard, 42, who runs a business with her gas engineer husband Dave, said: “When I asked Oscar if he wanted to donate a gift, he said can I ask other people to donate too?
“I realised this year that he had stopped believing in Santa, so we had a discussion about that and I told him there are two parts to Santa, one where you believe, and two, where you become the magic, so now you don’t believe you have to become the magic. He said to me ‘but mum what happens to those children who do believe but whose parents can’t afford the gifts?’ We had a really honest conversation about how unfortunately there are children that don’t get anything and we talked about charities helping reach children and he said ‘that’s what I want to do, I want to collect gifts’.
“He is using his recent experience of still believing in the magic of Santa and putting himself in the shoes of children who do believe, but don’t get the magic or the gifts or have to stop believing earlier because of that. We’re really proud of him – he’s a superstar.”
When thinking of who to donate to, Emma immediately thought of The Salvation Army, which to many people’s minds represents the beginning of Christmas when the brass bands start playing in the high street.
Emma continued: “What cemented it for us was when I put a post on social media, I had a lot of direct messages from people who had had presents from The Salvation Army and some of the stories broke my heart. One woman found herself homeless before Christmas and she got into emergency accommodation. She had told her children that Christmas wouldn’t be happening that year, but not to worry because at least they were all together, but then The Salvation Army turned up with a box of gifts. They gave her son a gift for him to put under the tree for her as well. Another woman’s husband lost his sight just before Christmas and they were struggling but The Salvation Army saved their Christmas. There were some amazing stories.
“It’s only one day of the year, but Christmas gives you the oomph to keep going, it’s the little bit of light when everything feels really dark. The presents remind kids that they are not forgotten.”
Emma thought they might have a couple of bags of donations from family and friends, but they’ve ended up with 200 gifts and counting!
She added: “I put something on my Facebook page asking family and friends to donate and he used his pocket money to get him started. My husband shared it on his business page so his customers started to donate.
“There’s so much in the news about struggling families who are choosing between heating their homes or buying food and with Christmas coming it’s at the forefront of people’s minds.
“Oscar has been able to do this because of the generosity of others who have gone out their way to donate, so we want to say a big thank you to everyone who has donated. We also want to encourage others to pick up one extra gift to donate if they can afford it or an extra item to donate to the food bank.
“It’s not a bad thing to ask for help if you need it, there’s no shame in asking for help. During the pandemic, the motto was helping people and being kind to each other, it’s about keeping that spirit going and being a community.”
Batley Corps Officer Captain Mark Cozens said: “A big thank you to Oscar and all the people who donated to him. This will make such a difference to families across Batley who have been seriously worried about how they are going to afford Christmas this year. Oscar has shown kindness and compassion, and will help bring smiles to many children’s faces this Christmas morning!”
The Salvation Army will sort and distribute the gifts to children and families in the area through their networks and via local groups and social services.