A real-life ‘Santa’s Little Helper’ has collected hundreds of gifts for families who have been hit hard by the cost of living crisis this Christmas.
Sophia Agate has so far collected more than 130 gifts from generous neighbours, which she plans to share among grateful schoolchildren for the third year in a row.
The seven-year-old came up with the idea to give away ‘a few’ presents during lockdown in 2020 after fears Santa Claus wouldn’t reach homes due to movement restrictions.
But now her mother Kirsty, 39, is using an online ‘wish list’ system to allow locals to buy bags of goodies – from tablets to board games – which they then wrap up and give to children.
And their incredible Christmas project seems more important than ever as families feel the pinch of the “senseless” cost of living crisis.
Speaking about her festive present, Sophie said, “It makes me happy because some kids who don’t have a lot of presents can get something for Christmas.
“I really love doing it. It’s amazing to see the kids enjoying their toys. I’ll continue doing it next year. We do it every year. But it’s been the best year yet.
Kirsty added: “It’s so beautiful that it comes from someone so young. It also gives me some hope for the next generation.
“The cost of living is going crazy. But buying a thing or two, you don’t notice five to ten pounds coming out of your money.
“Everyone who does this makes such a difference.”
Mum-of-three Kirsty, from Doncaster, South Yorks., Said Sophia was initially concerned that Santa could not deliver to homes during the pandemic three years ago.
And even if she tried to reassure her, the young altruist asked her if she could share her gifts with those less fortunate than her.
She said: ‘Sophia got worried and asked about Santa Claus and how is he going to get around. We reassured her and said: ‘Since Santa Claus is magical, he will be fine.’
“But then she said, ‘What about the dads who can’t go to work right now and don’t have any money? Their children might not receive gifts.
“She asked if she could share her gifts with them.”
Kirsty said they initially passed on a few extra gifts to the children at Sophia’s school, Edlington’s Hill Top Primary Academy in Wakefield.
But when Sophia asked to repeat the project, Kirsty created a ‘wish list’ on Amazon with gift options for a range of young girls and boys in September.
She then offered local people the opportunity to contribute to the growing collection.
And Kirsty admitted they’ve received a ‘crazy’ amount of gifts this year, which the couple will soon be wrapping and labeling, before donating to their school and charities.
She said: “It’s a range of toys – we have tablets, modeling clay, board games, craft stuff, slime kits, all sorts of different things.
“We pack them all up and categorize them by age and say if they’re suitable for girls or boys. The school then distributes them to the less privileged children.
“But it’s gone completely crazy this year. We are really surprised at how many we have.
“I can’t really get around my room right now, I think we’re at around 130, and there’s still plenty more on the way.
Kirsty said the drive was particularly important this year as many families were clearly struggling to afford gifts due to the cost of living crisis.
She said: ‘We just dropped off a bag full of 15 gifts to a family just down the road.
“Unfortunately the mum has an inoperable brain tumor and we wanted to make sure her family has a good Christmas as her husband has lost his job.
“She was in tears at the door and said, ‘You don’t understand how much this is going to help.
Kirsty said she would be giving away several goodie bags at Sophia’s school on Friday (December 9) and expected to see many excited faces – just like in previous years.
She said: “Last year, as we finished the last day of school, we saw these children leave with their Christmas presents and saw their excitement.”