Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, players were once again unable to deliver the gifts in person, but instead, players packed presents and sent virtual festive messages to patients and staff at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, The Christie and Francis House Children’s Hospice.
Thanking staff for their continued hard work and sending positive messages to help raise patients’ spirits, both teams also sent an array of United-themed presents including shirts, hats and annuals to spread some festive joy.
Scott McTominay expressed the importance of sending presents and best wishes during this time, he said: “Christmastime is such a special time of year; it's important for the families and the kids to feel loved and feel that warmth around Christmas. The best part of being a footballer is seeing the smiles on fans' faces.”
Cristiano Ronaldo also reflected on the annual tradition: “It is unfortunate that we could not visit the hospitals this year, as it is something I really liked to do when I was last here at Old Trafford. It’s so important that we give our support to the young people at this special time of year and it’s an honour for me to be part of this again.”
Manchester United Foundation leads the Christmas visits each year on behalf of the club, this year delivering over 2,000 Manchester United items for staff and patients.
David Ireland, chief executive at Francis House Children’s Hospice, reflected on the importance of Manchester United’s support: “We have a visit every year and have for many years; it’s a really important part of Christmas for Francis House.
“It’s been a really difficult year, so just to know that people are thinking of us, not just for the families but for the staff here too, is really important. It’s not been an easy time; everyone is working under a lot of anxiety and stress, but these gifts give us that little bit of pleasure and a lift just when we need it, right before Christmas.”
There was also a special visit from club mascot Fred the Red who helped to pack and deliver gifts, much to the delight of the young people and families staying at Francis House.
Aaron Clarke, a father of children staying at Francis House, spoke of the positive impact of the visit: “It’s making good memories for them; with their sister being poorly it’s not as easy for them to go out and experience certain things.
“To show that people are there and care for them, it’s massive for them. Marcus Rashford has visited before, and Juan Mata also came to my daughter’s school – it just shows they care about us and the community.”
This support is part of Manchester United Foundation’s Santa’s Red Helpers campaign, which offers opportunities for young people, as well as supporting local communities and families over the winter period.
This year’s campaign is once again also supporting FareShare Greater Manchester, and the Club and Foundation have pledged £100,000 to provide 400,000 meals for those in need this Christmas.
Donate to our Santa's Red Helpers appeal to support families in need this Christmas.