Runners and walkers have been urged to take part in a ‘virtual’ 2,186-mile charity trek to Lapland – dressed as Santa!
The Alice Charity’s traditional fundraising Santa Dash has been hit by the coronavirus restrictions.
Instead, the charity – which helps families living in poverty – is asking people to raise much-needed funds by completing the journey from Stoke-on-Trent to Santa’s home over the ‘12 days’ of Christmas.
And all those taking part will have a Santa suit specially delivered.
Alice Charity grants and fundraising manager Josie Humphreys said: “This is a challenge that everyone can get involved in.
“We’re looking to attract families who started doing an hour’s walk during lockdown and the local running clubs, such as Newcastle, Trentham Running Club, Sandbach Striders and Potters Trotters.
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“The event will take place over Alice’s 12 days of Christmas – December 1-12.
“Participants will then be asked to raise sponsorship, track mileage and gain rewards for hitting fundraising milestones. As soon as they start their fundraising with a donation of £10, we’ll send your Santa suit.
“We’re looking to make this a fun, mass participation event. There will be a lot of social media content surrounding it and we want to show off photos of people out jogging or on their treadmills wearing their Alice Charity Santa suit.”
In recent years, Alice Charity has run a Santa Dash in Hanley Park each December, but mass gatherings cannot be encouraged during the coronavirus pandemic.
Emily Petts, family support director at Alice, said: “Our virtual Tour de Alice was a huge success this summer and we got tremendous support from cyclists, either riding on a home exercise bike or out on the roads.
“We are hoping to get hundreds of people signing up for our Virtual Santa Dash, from mums and dads with their children, to local gyms and members of the many running clubs.
“Most charities have experienced major challenges due to Covid-19 and Alice is no exception, but while the fundraising picture is tricky, the need for support keeps growing.
“The pandemic has hit vulnerable families the hardest and led to an increased need in services such as our People’s Pantry food bank in Newcastle, emotional support and practical help with home essentials.
“And no-one can possibly have missed the issue over the lack of free school meals at holiday time. It is fantastic that Marcus Rashford has raised the profile hugely on that issue, but charities such as Alice have been working to support families with meals during the holidays for several years.”
Latest figures show approximately 75,000 people in Stoke-on-Trent live in areas classified in the 10 per cent most deprived in England.