Heeta’s Charity Appeal Brings Joy to Hundreds This Christmas | Epsom College
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Heeta’s Charity Appeal Brings Joy to Hundreds This Christmas

Heeta Vijaykumar (Year 11, White) arranged her own toy donation drive which gathered more than 370 gifts for those in need.

Heeta with her donation of gifts for children and families this Christmas, photographed alongside her father and Major Iain Stewart from Horsham Salvation Army.

Feeling inspired by the College’s annual toy drive for the charity Growbaby, Heeta decided to arrange her own donation drive for the Horsham Salvation Army this year.

Following more than six months of planning, meetings and logistics, Heeta managed to gather 373 toys and gifts for children in need. The gifts were all distributed by the Salvation Army, helping nearly 360 families in her local area this December. Donations included toys and gifts for children, a treat for parents, and vouchers to provide a Christmas dinner for the whole family.

Heeta said: “I was motivated to do this as the cost of living crisis is high at the moment and some families might not have been able to afford gifts for their children. I felt that the toy drive would be a good way to help these families and make their Christmas more enjoyable. I gained satisfaction from the toy drive, it was nice to see it all work out in the end.”

Heeta started planning the toy drive back in June, during her summer holiday. She spent time looking for charities close to her home that accepted gifts before reaching out to several and The Salvation Army were the first to reply.

Heeta said: “They were very supportive and helped me achieve my goal. We sent emails back and forth discussing timings and details and then I set it up, arranging meetings with the bosses at the doctor surgeries I had worked in and I got their support to run the donation drive through them. When November came I sent out posters and flyers to each surgery and dropped off big boxes where the toys could be kept at each location. We received all sorts – board games, educational games, books and soft toys – my original target was 200 so to reach 373 was amazing.”

Major Iain Stewart, who leads The Salvation Army in Horsham, said: “Heeta is a shining example of the way local people step up every year to join The Salvation Army in helping make Christmas a time of joy for people who might otherwise have been unable to celebrate. We’re really grateful for her enterprise and support.”

This is not the first time that Heeta has given up her time in aid of others. During the Covid-19 pandemic she would do her online lessons at home and then volunteer helping with vaccine distribution in local clinics in the evenings and on weekends. Her parents are both doctors and Heeta has her eyes firmly set on a medical career.

Heeta added: “I am very much looking forward to getting involved with the school’s service programme and I will definitely do more fundraising in the future. I haven’t quite decided what yet but during the summer holidays I am hoping to volunteer in an animal shelter.”

We are incredibly proud of Heeta’s hard work and perseverance, giving up her time and putting a lot of energy into this project to make Christmas special for others this year. We cannot wait to see what she gets up to next!