A real-life ‘Santa’s little helper’ has collected hundreds of presents for families who've been hard hit by the cost of living crisis this Christmas.
Sophia Agate has so far gathered more than 130 gifts from generous neighbours, which she plans to share among grateful school children for the third year running.
The seven-year-old had the idea of giving out "a few" gifts during the lockdown in 2020 after worrying that Santa wouldn’t reach homes due to movement restrictions.
But now her mum Kirsty, 39, uses an online “wish list” system to let locals buy sacks of gifts - from tablets to board games - that they then wrap and donate to children.
And their amazing yuletide project feels more important than ever as families feel the pinch from the "insane" cost of living crisis.
Speaking about her festive give-away, Sophie said: “It makes me feel happy because some children who don’t have many presents can get something for Christmas.
“I really love doing it. It’s amazing to see the kids enjoying their toys. I’ll keep doing it next year. We’re doing it every year. But it’s been the best year yet.”
Kirsty added: “It’s so lovely that it comes from somebody who is so young. It kind of gives me that bit of hope for the next generation as well.
“The cost of living is going absolutely insane. But buying one thing or a couple, you don’t notice just five to ten pounds coming out of your money.
"Everyone doing that makes such a difference.”
Mum-of-three Kirsty, from Doncaster, South Yorks., said Sophia had first worried Santa wouldn't be able to deliver to homes during the pandemic three years ago.
And even though she tried to reassure her, the selfless youngster asked if she could share her presents with those less fortunate than herself.
She said: “Sophia got concerned and asked about Santa and how is he going to get around. We reassured her and said: ‘As Santa is magic, he will be ok.’
“But then she said, ‘What about the daddies who can’t go to work at the moment and can’t get any pennies? Their children might not get any presents.’
“She asked if she could share her presents with them.”
Kirsty said they initially passed on a couple of extra presents to kids at Sophia’s school, Edlington’s Hill Top Primary Academy, in Wakefield.
But when Sophia asked to repeat the project, Kirsty set up a “wish list” on Amazon with gifts options for a range of young girls and boys in September.
She then offered local people the chance to contribute to the growing collection.
And Kirsty admitted they'd received a “crazy” amount of presents this year, which the pair will soon wrap and label, before giving them to her school and charities.
She said: “It’s an array of toys - we’ve got tablets, play dough, board games, craft stuff, slime kits, all sorts of different things.
“We wrap them all and age group them and say if they’re suitable for girls or boys. The school then hands them out to the less privileged children.
“But it’s gone absolutely crazy this year. We’re really surprised with how much we’ve got.”
“I can’t really move around in my bedroom at the moment, I think we’re at about 130, and there are still lots more on the way.
Kirsty said the collection was particularly important this year as many families were clearly struggling to afford gifts due to the cost of living crisis.
She said: “We have just gone and dropped off a bag full of 15 gifts to a family just down the road.
“Unfortunately, the mum’s got an inoperable brain tumour, and we wanted to make sure that her family was having a great Christmas because her husband has lost his job.
“She was in tears at the door and said: ‘You don’t understand how much this is going to help.'
Kirsty said she would give several sacks of presents to Sophia’s school on Friday (Dec 9) and expected to see many excited faces - just like previous years.
She said: “Last year when we were finishing on the final day of school, we saw these children leaving with their Christmas presents and saw the excitement from them."