Fans urged to donate football kits to make Christmas special for disadvantaged children
Football fans are being urged to donate shirts and cash for Christmas presents for children whose families cannot afford them. Last Christmas Kitmas, which is run by Paul and Lizzie Watson from Stroud
Football fans are being urged to donate shirts and cash for Christmas presents for children whose families cannot afford them.
Last Christmas Kitmas, which is run by Paul and Lizzie Watson from Stroud, distributed 1,000 kits to disadvantaged children in the UK.
"Everyone who is lucky enough to receive one as a kid, you really remember how exciting it was to get given a football shirt," Mr Watson told the PA news agency.
"I think it really did what we wanted it to do and made some kids' Christmases feel a bit more special."
Last year, Mr Watson was working with refugee charities overseas and received a donation of 10 kits that could not be sent to refugee banks, so he decided to distribute them locally via food banks.
"We contacted initially just our local food bank in Stroud and said 'is this something you'd be able to distribute for us?' and they were really enthusiastic," he said.
"So we said, 'well, what if we could get 100 shirts?' and then it sort of snowballed and became in the end 1,000 of them which we gave out via 16 community groups around the UK."
Mr Watson said distributing the shirts "became more complicated than we could have thought" because of the sensitivity around club affiliations in certain areas.
"If you send Liverpool kits to Liverpool, you're going to get a lot of Everton fans and it's quite hard for the community groups to distribute, it's quite labour intensive.
"So we primarily focus on what we call neutral kits, which is kits any kid would be happy to get which don't cause any kind of controversy like a Barcelona kit or Real Madrid kit."
He and his wife were supported in the Kitmas project last year by his brother, comedian Mark Watson, who is "very much involved" and has been "brilliant" in helping to promote the cause.
They hope to match and hopefully better last year's total of 1,000 shirts this year.
Fans can either donate money via their crowdfunding page or send a shirt to a PO Box address listed on the page.
"We always stress that they should need to be in excellent condition," Mr Watson said.
"Because a football shirt is something aspirational and because it's a Christmas present, you don't want children to feel like they're a charity cause and it's really nice to give them something that at least looks new."