Kitmas campaign to give away soccer jerseys to thousands of poor children this Christmas
He added: “We loved doing it last year and wanted to make sure the centers we were working with were able to provide shirts again as some of the kids were already looking forward to it.”
The campaign – inspired by Watson’s involvement in charitable football projects abroad – was supported by leading figures and experts, including comedian Mark Watson, Paul’s brother and Gary Lineker.
“I always remember how exciting it was to have a football shirt for Christmas when I was a kid,” Watson told The Big Issue at the campaign launch. “If we can give that to a few kids who wouldn’t have anything else, then it’s amazing.”
Kitmas both collects shirts and uses cash donations to purchase new kits to send to children in poverty. The jerseys collected and purchased are checked for quality and deliberately selected to ensure that they will be something a child can feel excited to wear – and will not be their club’s local rival’s kit. .
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This means focusing on so-called neutral clubs, like Barcelona or Real Madrid, which will have mass appeal for young British football fans.
“We’re pretty strict on the children we collect because they have to be gifts for the kids, so they have to be pristine, like new,” Watson said.
“We don’t want children to feel like they’re being rejected, so we send anything that doesn’t quite meet that standard to other charity projects, some in Africa, where they will be loved.
“We’ve gotten pretty good at finding the most cost effective way to spend the money we get to ensure that as many kids as possible have shirts, but it’s a bit of a challenge to make sure we get the right sizes and the right clubs that won’t offend! “
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Activists – who aim to become a registered charity – are also encouraging UK football clubs to set up their own Kitmas campaigns to give local underprivileged children the gift of a Christmas shirt.
You can donate to Kitmas and find out where to send football shirts here.