A 12-year-old schoolboy has become a local hero after opening a gift bank to help families in need this Christmas.
Isaac Winfield, from Redditch, Worcestershire, has been hailed “Santa’s little helper” by locals after setting up a gift bank so that families who are struggling can celebrate the festive season without worrying about what is under the tree.
Isaac enlisted the help of the local Greenlands pub to store the hundreds of donated gifts that he has received.
“We’ve had baby toys, books, dolls, teddies, Nerf guns, blankets, toiletries, there’s just a bit of everything here. It’s all been quite overwhelming to see,” said Claire Chapman, Isaac’s mother.
In November 2020, as the world grappled with the challenges of the pandemic, Isaac decided to make a difference. With his birthday money, Isaac bought £40 worth of groceries and opened a food bank in his garden shed, aiming to tackle the issue of rising food insecurity in Redditch.
Isaac’s journey began with a modest pop-up greenhouse which soon evolved into a shed in January 2021. The impact was immediate, and after realising how many people in his community needed a helping hand, Isaac went on to establish four more food banks at different locations in Redditch.
Isaac recently opened his fifth food bank at Willow Trees Community Centre with the support of the YMCA.
In October of this year, two of Isaac’s food banks were targeted by robbers who stole over £50 worth of food. Despite the setback, Isaac remained determined to continue his mission to help those less fortunate.
Shortly after being robbed, Isaac’s luck changed when Aldi donated £500 worth of groceries to help replenish his food banks.
“We were blown away by the donations we’ve had since the theft. Isaac has gone from being heartbroken to elated. So many people have shown amazing generosity. When the theft happened, Isaac was devastated, but this has restored his faith in humanity and really shows the goodness in people,” said Ms Chapman.
She added: “[Isaac] worked so hard on this project and spends every weekend fundraising. He is so passionate about it and this means he can carry on helping the community.”
Aldi has taken the support one step further by donating an additional £2,000 to help Isaac launch his gift bank.
“I’m so happy with the donations from Aldi—my shed is so well stocked with gifts for anyone who needs them, just in time for Christmas,” Isaac said.
Julie Ashfield, managing director of buying at Aldi UK, said, “We’re thrilled that we were able to help out Isaac and his local community again. His story really struck a chord with us—Isaac continues to do amazing, vital work and helping to ease the minds of families by ensuring there are presents under the tree is certainly an important Christmas gift.
“Like everyone, we were appalled and saddened to hear about Isaac’s food banks, so we are delighted that we can help where we can and ensure he continues to be able to do his amazing work.”
Isaac and Ms Chapman have seen high demand for the gift bank, with over 200 children turning up on the first day.
Ms Chapman said, “[Isaac] is absolutely ecstatic seeing his shelves full with toys and gifts. He has dedicated his spare time to helping. It’s the best Christmas present he could have asked for. Isaac wrote to Santa this year asking if he could bring poor children presents instead—all he wants to do is help people.”
Find out how you can get involved by visiting the Friends of Isaac’s Food Bank Facebook page.