While many of us are looking forward to celebrating Christmas with our immediate families, Tonia Nixon is not slowing down.
Covid has meant that the devoted Loftus lady, who has spent 50 years volunteering and fundraising for scores of Teesside charities, has found herself in even greater demand.
Tonia first dipped her toes into charity at the age of six when, with her mum’s support, she held jumble sales in aid of the Marske Cheshire Home.
Now, Tonia’s long-standing dedication to causes such as Redcar Lifeboat, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Teesside Socialist Clothing Bank – not to mention her own charity, Tees CIO – has earned her a well-deserved Christmas gift.
Tonia is the latest recipient of the Teesside Philanthropic Foundation’s Teesside Heroes Award which was presented virtually to her by Paul Davison on behalf of patrons Erimus Insurance Brokers.
“Tonia has worked like crazy, and even more so during Covid,” said nominee Carrie Cook.
“Just some of her work has included delivering over 1,000 meals to the vulnerable, supplying period poverty products throughout Teesside, running two clothing banks and securing a building in Saltburn to open a one-stop shop, supplying families with furniture, white goods and whatever else is needed.”
Tonia’s passion for helping people led her to launch Tees CIO just over a year ago, which she initially funded herself to help the homeless and those with mental health and addiction problems.
Before lockdown, the charity was helping 50 people per month, but the numbers are growing all the time.
“Who knows what next year will bring, but we will have a job club open in Saltburn and hopefully be running lots of free courses and growing as a charity,” said Tonia.
“Our future goal is to build houses for the homeless. Hopefully, in five years’ time the charity will be housing 20-30 vulnerable people.”
The £1,000 donation which comes with the Teesside Hero Award will be put to good use by Tonia.
“The award and the donation are fantastic and couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Tonia.
“Tees are in desperate need of a van to continue our work, and this donation puts us halfway to buying one.
“Thanks to Darren at Practical Car and Van Rental in Warrenby who is supplying us a Ford Transit at cost price, we hope to have the remaining £4,100 raised via our JustGiving page on Facebook by the time its ready in January.”
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