Today, not every parent across the country woke up with their kids rushing downstairs to open their presents.
Instead, they were in a hospital ward and will spend the day sitting by their child’s bedside.
Despite the festive time of year, many kids were simply too sick to go home this year.
And although spending time in hospital can be tough for them, it’s very hard for their parents too.
But thanks to one 25-year-old, almost 500 of these parents will receive their own special gift to open today.
Although it is just a small token, it can bring a little bit of joy.
The presents are all thanks to an organisation called Project Parent, created by Kate Stanforth, from Northumberland
Now 25, Kate was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, when she was 14.
It was Kate’s own experiences of spending time in hospital that led to the creation of Project Parent.
Throughout all the stays she had, she noticed that there were lots of gifts and things for children, but never anything for her parents, who were always by her side.
Kate tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I remember around Christmas, there would be vans full of presents coming in for children but nothing for their mums and dads.
‘Parents don’t often think about themselves because they are putting all their care
‘Lots of these people have been in hospital for a long time and haven’t thought about anything other than their sick child for a long time – so in 2014, I decided to launch Project Parent.’
To start the project, Kate was given a grant of £300 from GoThinkBig, a fund set up by O2 to help young people with career opportunities.
Kate used the money to give 30 gift boxes out to the Great North Children’s hospital in Newcastle.
Kate says: ‘Originally that was going to be it but we received amazing feedback from the parents and the nurses, who told us what a huge difference it had made.
‘O2 got in touch and said we could have a further £2500 to run it the next year.
‘The following year, we ended up doing 50 boxes at five hospitals across the North East.’
After the funding from O2 GoThinkBig was cut, Kate made the decision to continue the project, fundraising herself to keep it going.
Every year they hold small events and have a sponsor a box scheme.
There is now an option on their website to pay £10.50 for a box and each one goes to a parent with a child in hospital.
They include things like sweets, colour books, soap and even hankies for those emotional moments in hospital.
Some of the items are paid for with sponsorship and others are donated by businesses to be added to the boxes.
‘Our boxes really do cost us £10 each and we hand pack each one with the help of volunteers.
‘If you sponsor a box, we add a card inside to tell the parents who paid for the box for them.
‘It’s lovely because often we get parents coming back to us, asking us to thank whoever has sponsored it for them.’
Over the years, the scheme has continued to grow and Kate now has an army of volunteers based across the UK who help raise money and create her boxes.
Each one is filled with the same gifts because it is handpacked.
Kate adds: ‘It is a huge job and we have to work hard throughout the year.
‘We have to get all the items together, pack them, write the cards and get them out to people.
‘But to get such great feedback means so much to us because we have put in so much work.
‘My parents have been in that situation and it really does matter to me that people enjoy these boxes. It makes me want to keep it going year after year.’
Kate is also keen to give work experience to younger people and people with chronic illness or disabilities.
She adds: ‘We have an amazing group helping and we want to help people who need something to put on their CV as well. That’s always been really important to me.’
This year, Project Parent supported parents in eight hospitals and one charity, with boxes including tiny wooden Christmas decorations, eco-friendly travel mugs, biscuits, tea and lots of other tiny things to help.
If you want to help Project Parent, you can get in touch with them via the website.
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