Volunteers raise funds to bring Christmas cheer to Grenfell community

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Volunteers are planning to bring Christmas cheer and a visit from Santa Claus to children affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Those helping in the aftermath of the devastating tower block fire are hoping to ensure every child will receive a Christmas present, and are planning a festive party for survivors and the wider community.

A Go Fund Me page, set up on Monday morning by Stevan Racz, who lost his uncle Denis Murphy in the fire, has raised almost £3,000 in donations.

He said that he was passionate about the idea because it is what his uncle "would have been doing if he survived".

Julie Anne Dean, a Hertfordshire resident who has been working with Mr Racz on the project, said it was "amazing" that the public had already been so generous.

She told the Press Association: "I think for the parents it will be... this Christmas is going to be very, very hard, I think for all of them - even the youngest of the children - it's going to have a knock-on effect from the adults downwards.

"These poignant times is when it hits home. It's the first Christmas and I am pretty certain that you will find most of them are dreading it.

"The majority are still in hotels, and even if they haven't actually lost anyone they have lost their neighbours, their homes, they have lost everything.

"So I think it's going to mean the world to them. I just think it will be lovely to have everyone together and it might just give them a little lift."

Some 18 children died in the June 14 fire, leaving many more with gaping holes in their classrooms where their friends used to sit.

Organisers said the idea started as a small plan to provide some gifts for a local mother and daughters group but had since blossomed.

Ms Dean said many of the local community, including volunteers, felt "forgotten" nearly six months on from the fire as they continue their slow recovery.

She added: "These small gestures of kindness - a pound from members of the public - make such a difference and show them that they are not forgotten and there are people out there that care and who are still standing behind them."

They are appealing for any help with decorations, wrapping paper, and presents for children and teenagers from organisations and individuals.

Members of the public can either donate to the site or send gifts directly to a distribution point set up by volunteers.