A business owner has been called the ‘real-life Santa Claus’ after spending almost £15,000 on Christmas presents for underprivileged children in Leeds. Reese Fletcher, 31 who owns a gardening firm was behind the kind gesture as he believes ‘no kid should be without a gift at Christmas.’
Reese and his team turned piles of timber donated by local firms into 1,600 Christmas trees which they sold for £10 a pop to raise the cash. They then used the money to fund a trolley dash in toy shops to buy gifts which he then distributed to good causes that help needy children in his hometown of Leeds.
Reese said: "The times are getting hard and the numbers of people struggling are getting bigger. It’s nice to be nice and do something to help others."
The team filled a staggering 37 trolleys in Smyth’s Toys and spent £14,735 to make sure disadvantaged youngsters had a present to open on Christmas Day. They also have a further £4,000 of gift cards to older children and donated the rest of their whopping £22,000 fundraising effort to a suicide prevention charity.
It is the third consecutive year Reese, a dad-of-two, has bought presents for underprivileged children. The ‘real-life Santa’ started his fundraising efforts in 2020 when he saw a charity video highlighting children who would likely not have any Christmas presents to open.
And despite his amazing efforts last year which saw him raise more than £10,000, this year he has more than doubled his figure after launching a JustGiving page.He added: "We had a big social media push and a lot of people have seen it and a lot of people that saw it last year followed us in the hope we’d do it again. The response this year compared to last year has just been amazing. It’s pretty much doubled, the amount we’ve raised in total.”
Reese, who was helped by a team including his dad and two of his staff, also praised local firms and farmers who helped his efforts. Reese donated the toys to a high school and community centre in Leeds, as well as depositing a cash donation to Andy’s Man Club, a men’s suicide prevention charity.