Santa is sitting in an armchair holding a present, a young boy in an elfs costume is holding a present and looking at santa, a girl next to the boy leans in towards santa smiling

23rd December 2022

Santa Grotto Brings Festive Cheer to Wimborne Food Bank+

Santa flew in to Dorset to bring some festive cheer to Wimborne Food Bank+ last weekend.

As the long spell of icy weather continued 30 adults and 47 children braved the conditions to visit Wimborne Food Bank’s Santa Grotto.  The team dressed up as elves and in Christmas jumpers as they cheerfully served a Christmas buffet with hot drinks and chatted to the families as they waited to meet Santa.

Each child received a present and goodie bag from Santa and his elf.  The team also helped each child choose a book and a present for themselves as well as wrap a present to give to their parents on Christmas Day. Parents were distracted with hot drinks and the free buffet so the surprise wasn’t ruined!

More than one parent was in tears as they thanked the team for providing such a special outing. As one Mum explained: “The grotto looked absolutely amazing with such a jolly and caring Father Christmas. And an array of fun stations set up – books, toys and treats. The children absolutely loved their amazing experience.”

Sharon Keenan, Wimborne Food Bank+ manager, explained: “Visiting Santa can cost a lot of money especially during an expensive time of year. We wanted to create memorable experiences for each family so that they could all enjoy something at a special time of year that others might take for granted.

Our Santa’s Grotto has grown each year and is enjoyed not only by the children but by the adults and our volunteer helpers as well. We love to see the excitement on the children’s faces when they have seen Santa and are able to choose a Christmas present for themselves and for their parents.”

For families worried about affording Christmas at all this year, the event provided the opportunity to meet Santa while ensuring that every family member received a present. One Mum explained: “Today I watched my beautiful daughters smile and it filled my heart with joy. All this was made possible by all of you… what has seemed like an impossible few months, stressful and a struggle, today you took that away. I can’t thank you all enough words don’t cover the warmth in our hearts.”

Even Santa felt the occasion stood out in his hectic schedule!: “My visit to Wimborne Food Bank was very special. The families and volunteers there make it a very memorable day in my very busy calendar. It’s worth my long journey to see the faces of the happy children and equally happy adults. Merry Christmas to all involved with Wimborne Food Bank+.”

Man dressed as santa and sitting in an armchair with two women stood either side and smiling

*Santa with Rachel (left), Wimborne Food Bank+ Deputy Manager and Sharon (right), Manager

Thank you to everyone who donated presents for the event, Peter Barnes & Gilly Pantlin who created the grotto, those who donated books and all the wonderful community of Wimborne who faithfully support us throughout the year.

Last but not least, a huge thank you to the volunteers who tirelessly helped set up the grotto, served the buffet, chatted to the families, assisted children with wrapping the surprise presents for Mums and Dads, generally provided Christmas cheer and tried to stay out of mischief!

If you would like to support the ongoing work of Wimborne Food Bank+ you can make a donation below.

Three people with elves hats on, two women stood either side of a man pretending to wrap him up, the man has a surprised look on his face

*One of the elfs was nearly gift wrapped and put on the present pile!

The elves may have been cheeky but as one Mum said: “All the children were so happy. They loved the experience of seeing Father Christmas. The elf and everyone at the centre made us feel really special.”

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