The Meningitis Trust will target 24,800 UK primary schools next Wednesday with its first Christmas fundraising pack.
The pack includes appeal letters from chief executive Philip Kirby and a teenager with meningitis, along with a list of simple fundraising ideas.
The charity hopes the pack will encourage primary schools to raise money for the Trust's Support for Life appeal, which began in August. This is its largest-ever fundraising appeal and aims to raise £4m to fund support services over the next two years.
"This is the first time we've mailed schools as part of a strategy to set up an ongoing dialogue," said Rosie Marsland, fundraising manager at the charity, who is confident the pack will strike the right chord with pupils, parents and teachers. "Our research showed schools to be receptive to our Support for Life message, and that now is the right time of year to get schools thinking about fundraising ideas for Christmas."
Many of the ideas link in with the Trust's mascot, Monty the Duck. The ideas sheet asks children to 'beat Monty this Christmas' at jumping up and down. It offers to provide schools with pictures of Monty for colouring competitions, and provide Monty pin-badges for Christmas carol-singing concerts to raise funds. Other ideas include a competition to make the longest Christmas paper chain, and a 'rainbow day' where children are invited to dress in their favourite colours of the rainbow.
The pack also contains stickers of Monty dressed as a reindeer, an angel and a Christmas cracker, to provide the children with an incentive to participate.
"We're positive we've got the right ingredients to interest a lot of schools, although we'll be more than happy with a 1 per cent response rate," said Marsland. "We think children will love our bright, eye-catching stickers and our fundraising ideas are deliberately simple, so schools can get involved by giving just a few hours of time."
The appeal letter from 14 year-old Thomas Digney describes how, at the age of seven, he developed meningoccal septicaemia (meningitis with blood poisoning) and had to have his left arm, some fingers and most of his toes amputated. He explains how he has rebuilt his life with the help of the Trust, to the point where he recently won several gold medals at the National Swimming and Athletics Championships.