The organisers of ‘Kitmas‘ – a grassroots-led campaign to brighten up Christmas for struggling families around the country – are once again urging fans to donate football kits this December.
Kitmas was founded in 2020 by former semi-professional footballer Paul Watson alongside Lizzie Watson, supported by comedians Vix Leyton and Mark Watson. Since then they have delivered more than 3,000 kits to children across the UK and they are looking to help many more.
The campaign that started life as a social media appeal has already seen kits donated to grassroots community groups and kids across the country who might not otherwise get a Christmas present this year.
And this Christmas there are two main ways supporters can back Kitmas 2022 – donating to the central fund on Crowdfunder or starting a local campaign at club level.
So far the central Kitmas 2022 Crowdfunder page has raised more than £11,000, surpassing the original £10,000 target. Kitmas organisers now plan to use the money to distribute shirts via schools and community groups.
Paul said: “Growing up, we didn’t always get a football shirt – it was like the pinnacle of a present – but if you did, it was like that was your Christmas made, I still remember how that felt.
“What’s so sad now is that most families cannot buy football shirts for their children because the cost is so ridiculous.
“It’s a way of saying, ‘you’re part of this and you belong.”
Kitmas: Local clubs and fans working together
Last season at Frome Town, supporters and the club worked together to deliver 97 club shirts, 97 boxes of chocolates, 97 children’s books and 97 ticket packages to Fair Frome to distribute to people in need around the town.
Frome Town marketing and communications director Scott Fitzgibbon said: “We were quick to realise the potential that Kitmas could bring to the community.
“We hoped to reach 25 shirts, so to see how the supporters engaged and donated to reach 97 shirts was amazing. Then to see all parts of the club come together with Fair Frome to make 97 children in Frome’s Christmas that little bit better has been something to behold.”
Similarly Cheltenham Town and supporters worked together on a Kitmas drive last season, raising almost £1,000 to donate more than 45 replica shirts for children. Another Kitmas drive is underway at Whaddon Road again with £2,745 raised already.
“The response has been amazing already, there’s a great community of people out there,” Paul told The Big Issue. “People see the bad of Twitter but social media brings out so many amazing things.
“What’s nice is that it’s all individual people who have a fiver to donate or one kit lying around. It’s not coming from some big corporation, it’s really personal.
“Just normal people who remember what it was like to get a kit as a kid and want to do something nice for others.”
Though they hope to get all kits out in time for Christmas, the Kitmas team say they will gladly accept donations into 2023.