Santa's Christmas Eve Jingle initiative launched in Falkirk now a global 'support network'
A festive bell-ringing event set up by two Falkirk friends has snowballed to become a global “support network”.
The Worldwide Santa’s Christmas Eve Jingle was originally launched by Lauren Sinclair and Terri Niven in 2020 as a way of spreading some cheer by encouraging families to ring bells outside their homes at the end of an extremely exacting year.
The pair, who are 36 and 42 respectively, were both stunned and thrilled when thousands of people across the globe got involved in their social media-led initiative, raising £10,000 in the process so Maggie’s Forth Valley could continue supporting those with cancer amid the pandemic.
Videos of little ones and parents jingling sleigh bells for Santa quickly went viral and the remarkable fundraising sum the event produced help to cover the cost of a week’s care by Maggie’s staff and volunteers.
Almost six months on, the Facebook group which kicked the whole thing off remains just as active – and important – as ever.
Having gathered close to 250,000 members from the far-flung corners of the planet, the Worldwide Santa’s Christmas Eve Jingle page is a place where Facebook users flock to in their droves to share well-wishes, connect with others and offer advice and virtual companionship.
From happy birthday wishes and garden maintenance tips to snaps of rainbows and even Western Australian “fairy mushrooms”, there really is something for everyone.
However, it’s also become an online source of comfort for many.
One 70th birthday post by the wife of a man battling Parkinson’s and terminal cancer received more than 3500 reactions and 5700 comments from well-wishers.
The community spirit the group has cultivated is an immense source of pride for its founders.
Lauren, who is a support worker for adults with learning disabilities, said: “It’s more than a jingle group now, it’s a massive chat group for everybody.
“It’s a worldwide support network. People post anything.
“On Christmas Eve it went like wildfire and never stopped. We’re just short of 250,000 members. It shot up overnight!
“It’s grown arms and legs. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
“We just want to say a massive thank you to every single person, from local people to well beyond.
“We started a birthday card thing and did a parcel exchange. People from America and Canada would send parcels to Scotland so people could taste treats from different parts of the world.
“I was sent loads of stuff like spicy Cheetos and chocolate from America, things from Nova Scotia and Tayto crisps from Dublin. We recently started a thing where we will be sending key rings overseas.”
A glance at some of the comments published on the page reveals just how much of an impact a light-hearted post has on its members.
One video shared last week showed a young girl dancing carefree for the camera, much to the amusement of her fellow youngsters.
Reacting to the clip, Tina Rout wrote: “After having the most emotional, stressful day today, after crying and feeling like screaming, this little girl made me smile and made me realise happiness is the key to life.
“Mum and dad of this gem, be proud. Don’t change, sweetheart, this made a bad day end with a smile. You are beautiful inside and out. Thank you.”
Caroline Boni shared her joy and responded: “Live your best life like no-one is watching.
“Absolutely brilliant – don't ever change, young lady.”
While Anne Carr was also clearly a big fan of the footage and said: “I have watched this over and over and it makes me smile every time... what a girl.”
The outpouring of condolences for the family of nine-year-old Jordan Banks, who died after being struck by lightning while playing football in Blackpool, is a fine example of the compassionate nature of the group's diverse membership.
Admin Lauren said: “There were lots of posts going up for the little boy who was struck by lightning in England.
“We were getting bombarded by these posts but we can’t put them all up so I put one up to dedicate it to the boy. Things like that bring people together from all over the world to send wishes to their family.
“The highlight for me is just the members’ friendliness and the amount of advice people get. It could be something really silly to one person but it could mean the world to someone else.
“It’s really nice. It’s just grown to be part of us. It’s like a part of my job.
“I’m also a parent to four children. It’s just part of my daily routine to check the page and make sure all the spam is off it. There’s some nasty stuff but we try to turn that off.”
The good news for all of those who took part in last year’s Worldwide Santa’s Christmas Eve Jingle is a plan is already in place to repeat the event in 2021 and build on the hugely successful inaugural fundraiser.
Lauren added: “We just want to make this year’s event bigger and better.
“We’re going to go for a mental health charity. We did it for the Maggie’s Centre, which was local to us, however, this year we’re going to go for something that affects everybody as I think a lot of mental health areas have been forgotten about.”
For further information, or to join the group, visit the Facebook page here.