Meet the family behind Norah's North Pole handing out presents to thousands of children who wouldn't get any gifts this Christmas

Thousands of children who may have woken up on Christmas morning without any presents will receive a ‘Santa sack’ full of gifts thanks to the efforts of one caring family.

Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 1:46 pm

The Norah's North Pole initiative gives out specially selected presents to children in need.

Supporting families living across the North East – including those in Sunderland, South Tyneside and Hartlepool – Norah’s North Pole relies on donations of brand new toys, food and essential warm clothing along with cash donations, which contribute to the sacks full of gifts.

The family behind the scheme work with schools, health visitors and social workers from across the region who refer the children who are in need of support.

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The Norah's North Pole family packing the Santa sacks in 2019.

Last year, Norah’s North Pole handed out 1,200 sacks of gifts to families in the North East and this Christmas it expects that amount to double as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Victoria Imrie-Bell from East Boldon is one of the family members working hard to make the Norah’s North Pole mission a success once again.

She said: “This year, there was the question of whether we would be able to go ahead with it but at the end of the day, there are children going to go without any presents on Christmas Day so we had to work out a way to provide for them under the circumstances of the pandemic.”

Donations are raised via the Norah’s North Pole Go Fund Me page, which has already raised £17,327 since it launched in November.

Thousands of presents have already been donated.

An Amazon wishlist has also been set up so that people can buy gifts that will be delivered directly to the Norah’s North Pole packing station in Sunderland.

The sacks of gifts are made up specifically for each child referred to the organisation so that they contain items that are on their Christmas wish list.

The presents are then handed directly to the parents so that they can wrap them for their child.

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Working alongside sisters Sophie and Sarah Imrie and family members based across the North East, Victoria said the Norah’s North Pole was launched five years ago in memory of their grandmother, Norah Wilkinson, who lived by the motto ‘it’s nice to be nice’.

Since then family have donated 5,000 Santa sacks thanks to the support from the public.

Victoria, 35, added: “We are not a charity; just a family who have seen a need in our local community and want to do our part to help children and their families by sprinkling a little Christmas kindness.

"The Amazon list has been brilliant because people who can’t leave the house can still donate.

"The money we receive, we spend at local businesses such as local toy shops and food stores so we can also support them.”

The family will spend the weekend of December 11 and 12 packing the sacks, so there is still time to contribute to the appeal.

The team also puts together food parcels to go with the Santa sacks for those who will not have enough food this Christmas.

If you would like to order toys online and have them delivered the address is: Norah’s North Pole HQ, St Peter's Gate, Charles St, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland SR6 0AN.

The group are now appealing for a local removal company to help them transport the gifts.

How to donate:

To donate via the Norah’s North Pole Amazon gift list visit: https://bit.ly/NorahsNP

To donate to the Go Fund Me page visit: https://bit.ly/NNPGoFund

Gifts can also be dropped off directly at donation points across the North East which are listed below.

Drop off points for gifts include: SUNDERLAND - 9AM - 5PM (MON - FRI)Tor Imrie-Bell, St Peter’s Gate Business Centre, Charles Street, Sunderland, SR6 0ANSOUTH SHIELDS - 9AM - 3PM (MON - FRI)Norah's North Pole, SS Peter and Paul RC Primary School, Olive Street, South Shields, NE33 4RDDURHAM - RAMSIDE HALL HOTEL - DROP OFF AT HOTEL RECEPTION (ALL WEEK)6TH DECEMBER SANTA DROP OFF STATIONSuzanne Adamson, Ramside Hall, Carrville, Durham DH1 1TDDURHAM (ALL WEEK)Poplar Tree Garden Centre & Brambles Coffee Shop, Hall Lane, Shincliffe, Durham, DH1 2NG

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