A drive to give football shirts to disadvantaged children this Christmas has raised nearly £20,000.
Kitmas, an initiative thought up by football coach and activist Paul Watson and now in its second year, collects pre-loved shirts to distribute through grassroots community groups across the UK.
With nearly two weeks left to go, the fundraiser has more than doubled last year’s success, when around 1,000 shirts were sent out via 16 organisations to ensure children in low-income households had something to open on Christmas day. It inspired a similar campaign to kick off in Canada this festive season.
Watson and wife Lizzie, in Stroud, are finding time around work and caring for their children to collect, buy, pack up and distribute the increasingly expensive shirts around the country after another hard year for disadvantaged young people.
“We heard a lot of times that kids were over the moon to have a shirt and for some it made them feel more able to play football with friends and at school, which is really important,” Watson told The Big Issue.
“In a way the greatest unexpected challenge is that we didn’t expect things to go so big. We ended up with shirts stacked all over our house in piles for different centres. We’ve learned from last year’s chaos and have a much better idea what to expect this time around.