Operation Christmas Smile: The Leeds children on a mission to spread Christmas cheer

Two young boys from the Horsforth area have been distributing gifts to people in Leeds.

Since November 2020, 13-year-old Michael and his little brother Tommy, who is four, have taken it upon themselves to give gifts to those they believe need them.

They can be seen dressed as Christmas Elves pulling a trolley loaded with a variety of gifts.

The duo is sometimes accompanied by Michael’s school friend and they fashion these gift hampers themselves out of toiletries, chocolates, and sometimes mugs.

The targets for their “random acts of kindness” can be people they spot in the street, their local fire station, or care homes for the elderly.

They recently provided gift hampers to every resident at Cookridge Court Care home.

Their mother, Leonie, said lockdown had been a very hard time for everyone, but particularly elderly people.

Operation Christmas Smile began as a small act of kindness but turned into a full-blown operation, after their grandfather passed away from cancer on Christmas day 2020 after a misdiagnosis.

Leonie told Yorkshire Voice: “He was a fun-loving person who always put people’s happiness before himself and he had a great sense of humour and loved to make people smile. He always loved to give. They didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

Their most recent recipient is a local resident who preferred to remain anonymous. She said: “After a really horrible week I was greeted by two lovely boys and given this beautiful gift. It really helped me a lot that day.”

The gift in question was a small candle.

Operation Christmas Smile is growing and dispensing more expensive gift hampers to the people in Leeds and hosting raffles to keep the operation afloat.

It is unclear how long the boys plan to keep Operation Christmas Smile going, but they seem to have no intention of slowing down during this run-up to Christmas.

Michael is no stranger to fundraising; in 2019, he started a car boot sale before moving on to a stall.

He donated £2000 to the charity Team Sunshine and Headway-Cambridgeshire, who helped cover costs when their father was in hospital.

Leonie said: “The boys have massive hearts and love making people smile.”

Their aunty has also set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of producing the gift hampers.

The group also has a Facebook group with over a hundred members, with daily updates and messages of appreciation for the gifts given by the children.

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