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Connect Group's Secret Santa donations

Connect Group PLC and Smiths News bring Christmas joy to Swindon children

Employees from Swindon-based Connect Group PLC and Smiths News took Secret Santa to a new level on Friday by donating presents to Hop Skip & Jump, a children’s charity which provides immediate and flexible respite care and support to disadvantaged children in the town.

The centre provides day and evening respite care, seven days a week, for children with life limiting illnesses, learning disabilities and special educational needs.

In total, over 60 presents were bought by staff as an alternative to the well-known Secret Santa – instead of buying gifts for each other they bought presents for the children who use the respite centre, aged between seven and 13 years. And Smiths News also donated three boxes of children’s books from their Pass My Parcel business.

Lisa Lynn and Laura Smith delivered the presents on Friday – just in time for Hop Skip & Jump’s Christmas party, where Santa made a special visit to give out all the gifts.

Centre manager Sonia Osbourne said: “We are a respite day care centre for children with a wide range of disabilities and additional needs. Our centre also gives parents respite so that they can do the things they need to whilst providing a safe environment for their children. We are so grateful for the donation and would like to thank Smiths News for their generosity – the children and staff were overwhelmed.”

Hop Skip & Jump also have a new ‘drop off’ facility in the town centre that provides a two hour stay for children, so parents can have some time to themselves.

The donation of gifts ties in well with Connect Group’s company-wide community programme Community Link-Up, where staff are supported in any charity or volunteering activity they wish to take part in. So far the programme has raised over £400,000 for national and local charities since it began in 2011.