'Wrap for Jak' festive walk in memory of South Shields boy Jak Fada organised to ensure disadvantaged South Tyneside children have presents this Christmas
Jak passed away on November 6, 2017, the day after his grandfather, Jimmy Tomlin, had sadly died.
While the official verdict recorded by the Coroner was a ruptured artery, Jak’s dad, Tony Fada, believes Jak “died of a broken heart”, after struggling to come to terms with Jimmy’s passing.
Further tragedy struck the family a month later when Jak’s mother, Ashley Tomlin, died at the age of 32, also from a ruptured artery.
The grief-stricken family decided to focus their energy on creating a meaningful legacy in Jak’s honour and in December 2017 set up the Wrap for Jak initiative in which the family purchase and collect hundreds of presents for disadvantaged children which they then wrap and deliver in time for Christmas morning.
Tony, 34, said: “It was my mam, Julie Bright’s idea, and even though it was only a month since Jak died we wanted to do something in his honour. He was such a kind-hearted boy and this is something he would have loved.”
This year the family have 136 children on their Christmas list and would like to deliver a sack of “six to eight presents” to each child, meaning they are targeting over 1,000 presents and a fundraising target of £4,000.
To help raise vital funds, Tony’s brothers Danny, 30, John, 28, and Liam ,26, and his nephew Scott West, 30, have today (November 28) been taking part in a sponsored festive walk dressed as Santa, starting from Jak’s old school, Westoe Crown Primary, and ending at South Shield’s FC, where they were greeted by the players.
Liam said: “We’ve raised a few hundred pounds today, both in sponsorship and people donating to our collection bucket as we walked. At the start of the walk Jak’s old headteacher put a tenner in and one passer-by put in £20.
"We’ve done this every year since Jak died and it’s a legacy which looks to be growing with this year set to be the biggest yet.”
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The family have contacted the Key to Life Food Bank in South Shields, the Teenage Unit in Boldon and the Mother and Bay Unit in Tyne Dock to get the names and ages of children who “would be going without” this Christmas.
Contained in each festive sack is a gift card addressed from Jak.
Tony said: “It makes me so proud to be doing this in Jak’s honour and it’s leaving such a legacy in his name. Many of these children ask about Jak and their parents tell them about him.
"This is something I will continue doing until the day I die.”
Tony said they currently have a “real shortage” of appropriate presents for teenagers and infants under three. They are also looking for volunteers to help with the “big wrap for Jack” event which will be taking place at Harton & Westoe CW FC from 12pm on Sunday December 18.
Anyone who would like to help with the wrap or donation of presents should contact the family via the Wrap for Jak Facebook page.