Leeds Rhinos Foundation made their annual visit to Leeds Children’s Hospital earlier this week to deliver dozens of bags filled with presents for the children who will sadly be unable to spend their Christmas at home.
Three players from the Leeds Rhinos first team were also in attendance, with rising star Jack Broadbent joining Rhyse Martin and Bodene Thompson to help hand over hundreds of gift-wrapped offerings on behalf of the squad, who had donated sales of their old training kit to use for purchasing the presents.
Unlike previous years in which the full squad have visited families on the wards, in line with Covid-19 guidelines, the players donated and delivered the bags of presents to staff outside the hospital, which ensured they could continue their tradition of helping to put a smile on the faces of families facing a difficult festive period.
Organised by Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Head of Community Gareth Cook, presents were purchased to cater for children of all ages, from early years right up to teenagers and young adults. Items included cuddly toys, board games, racing cars and some of this year’s must have gifts from the Rhinos store, promising to bring some much-needed Christmas cheer to the young fans.
Having seen the commitment of the Rhinos squad to continue supporting this initiative, Cook was full of praise for the players and recognised the importance of making the yearly visit to spread some Christmas joy.
“The players have been brilliant as always and it means a lot to us all to come down to the Hospital each year,” he said.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t have the full squad here again because it’s something they love doing, taking the gifts round and seeing how the faces of the children light up when they visit. They put a lot of effort in when they come down here and it’s an experience I’m sure they get a lot out of too.
“We’ve been making this trip for several years now and it’s great that even in difficult circumstances we’ve able to come down here to hand out presents for the children, which will hopefully brighten up their Christmas. At the Foundation we’re all about giving back to young people and when you consider what some of these children will be going through at what should be such a joyous time of year, if we can help to bring them happiness and make it feel a little bit better then it’s all worthwhile.”
Play specialist at Leeds Children’s Hospital, Lisa Beaumont said: “We have a wonderful relationship with the Rhinos and it’s great that over these difficult times we can continue to maintain that partnership with the support of players to help bring in so many lovely gifts for the children.
“It makes such a difference, because it really does bring so much joy to the children it’s paramount in helping us make Christmas happen at the hospital. When it’s a gift that’s come from the Rhinos players it means even more because a lot of our children are huge supporters of the club. We’re extremely grateful for their donations which bring so much happiness to them this festive season.”