Skegness youngsters gave up Christmas presents to spread festive joy to orphaned children overseas

The spirit of Christmas on show at a Dominican Republic orphanage thanks to a Skegness family.
The spirit of Christmas on show at a Dominican Republic orphanage thanks to a Skegness family.

After watching a programme about orphanages around the world, two Skegness youngsters decided to go without Christmas presents in 2018 so they could help spread festive cheer to children in need overseas.

Kaci and Henry Howis, aged 15 and 12 respectively, were so moved by what they saw on TV at Christmas 2017, they asked mum Amanda if they could take some items to an orphanage in a deprived part of the world in time for the following Christmas; and to make this possible, they said they would go without presents.

After choosing the Orfanato Niños de Cristo in the Dominican Republic as their destination, the family launched an appeal for donations.

“We wrote a brief description about what the children wanted to do and explained they were doing this instead of Christmas presents for themselves,” explained Amanda. “We then distributed and spoke to managers and charity organisers within the local supermarkets and shops in Skegness. We had substantial donations from Morrisons, Tesco and Lidl and are extremely grateful for this.”

The family flew out to the Dominican Republic in the run-up to Christmas, spending a few hours at two orphanages – one for boys, one for girls.

“It was an experience for all of us, but especially my children as just something as simple as seeing where the children slept made them realise how lucky they are,” said Amanda.

She said she was ‘beyond proud’ of her children, adding: “They are just two normal kids, but with very big hearts.”

The family are now planning a follow-up visit in December 2020, plus, they hope, regular parcels of essentials in the meantime.

Anyone who can help with donations, is asked to email Amanda on

* Founded in 1993 in La Romana, Dominican Republic, Orfanato Niños de Cristo comprises two orphanages – one for boys, another for girls.

“[The children] come from a variety of background situations ranging from abandonment, loss of one or both parents, mothers who cannot care for them, absent fathers,” writes The Charles Decker Foundation, which supports the site, adding that many have also been physically, emotionally and sexually abused.

The cause says: “Regardless of their nationality, we are dedicated to improving the lives of the children we receive with open arms – focusing on education, health and housing.”

More information can be found at