BUSINESS SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY – Lee Southerton

Main Award – Lee Southerton – Volks Magic and Santa’s a Gangster

Lee Southerton from Volks Magic was our Awards Panel’s unanimous choice to receive the main award in this category, for his passion to make sure local children don’t think Santa has forgotten them.

Please click here to watch his nomination video and below is his nomination, plus photos from the evening.

 

Volunteering Activity:

Throughout the year and particularly over December, Lee organises a number of fundraising events in order to raise funds to provide gifts and funding to the children in the borough.

Reason for nomination:

Every year Lee works tirelessly to organise events and raise funds in order to provide gifts and vouchers for the children of Dudley.

Originally Lee started off by asking customers of his to donate gifts or money when they came in to his repair centre. This quickly expanded and the ‘Santa appeal’ was born. Lee advertises this with hoodies, car bumper stickers, signage and even using celebrities in order to endorse his appeal.  His appeal is called ‘Santa’s a gangster’!

Lee works throughout the year organising his events and has a Christmas party over the summer at a Volkswagen festival where everyone is encouraged to donate gifts or money both at the time and closer to Christmas. Lee will purposely not take work on over December in order to concentrate his efforts and to organise his team of elves to work around the clock collecting and delivering gifts and donations to children’s services for distribution.

The Intervention and Prevention team (formally FAST) would receive these donations, which would be given out throughout Children’s services.

Hundreds of children and families within the Dudley borough have benefitted greatly from Lee’s efforts for many years.  Each year, Lee and his team will donate in excess of 800 toys and over £2,000 in vouchers to children’s services in order for them to be distributed to families in need.

Lee’s fundraising efforts are getting bigger each year, not only does he gather gifts and donations from the local area, but he also uses his business contacts and friends in order to increase his fundraising efforts across the country.

Vulnerable families often find Christmas exceptionally hard, those who are already struggling to get by often find that they are unable to provide their children with gifts over Christmas or have to sacrifice other things in order to do so. The donations from Lee have made a huge difference to these families where they have been provided with bags of toys for each child and, where necessary, food parcels, nappies and other essentials to ease the burden of the Christmas period.

Lee and a lot of his helpers are keen to support local families. Many have experienced disadvantaged childhoods themselves and are passionate about ensuring that the children of Dudley all receive presents on Christmas day. Lee’s passion for his appeal is relentless, he asks of nothing in return, he doesn’t want public recognition or any thanks for his efforts.

It is impossible to quantify the positive impact Lee has had on the families of Dudley. So many of our families have been overwhelmed with the generosity of Lee and his helpers and it has been noted that these small acts of kindness not only benefits the families at Christmas but also throughout the year, where families would have otherwise have gained loans in order to buy gifts.

Not content in working hard for the Christmas period, Lee has also used his expertise to help the Sycamore Centre. When a number of their Go-Karts were damaged by vandals. Lee offered his time and materials in order to repair as many of the Go-Karts as possible.

Despite Lee’s modesty, I feel that it is time that he was recognised for his efforts over the years. Lee has become a valuable resource to not only our team but to children’s services as a whole and whilst Lee and his helpers are thanked each year for their efforts, thank you never seems enough! There are no words to really explain to Lee the positive impact he has had on the families of Dudley and the changes he has made to children’s lives in this magical time of year.

Due to the sheer scale of Lee’s fundraising efforts over the past few years, the Intervention and Prevention Team are no longer in a position to manage the gifts donated, and as a result Lee has been signposted to Operation Santa, where they are better able to organise and distribute the huge amount of gifts received. It is clear from last year’s efforts that Lee’s appeal will continue to get bigger and better over the coming years and continue to provide the children of Dudley with much needed gifts and funding.

On a personal note, having worked with Lee for many years, I have come to see first-hand the passion he puts into his fundraising and have been blown away by his relentless spirit and selfless nature. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Lee and his Santa appeal.

I’ve just found out that this year he is auctioning off a VW Cabriolet which his nephew has donated, at £5 a ticket, to raise funds for this year’s appeal and is determined to raise a small fortune.  He’s also doing a reverse Santa at the UK’s biggest VDubz Show in Malvern. Lee has a heart of gold and is committed to making a huge difference to local children and young people with nothing at Christmas.

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