The Salvation Army is ensuring thousands of children in the UK will wake up to presents on Christmas Day.
The church and charity is encouraging people to add an extra toy to their shopping list so that families struggling to buy a gift for their children can make sure there is a small surprise under their Christmas tree this year.
Val Mylechreest, Director of Family Ministries said: “During the festive season, when many are enjoying celebrations with friends and family, others are struggling to make ends meet.
“Our huge team of volunteers in communities across the country will be out delivering your generous Christmas gifts to those who might otherwise go without.
“The Christmas message inspires us as a church to reach out to those in need, so we’re running the Christmas Present Appeal to ensure every child gets a present.”
People are invited to drop a new unused toy for a child aged nought to 16 years old to their nearest participating Salvation Army church or centre from mid-November to early December. The Salvation Army will then wrap the gifts, which will be distributed to children and families in the local area through The Salvation Army’s own networks, local groups and social services.
Gifts can include anything from soft and educational toys for the very youngest child, to games, toys and accessories for older children. A number of Salvation Army churches also run Christmas food box appeals.
Each local appeal is tailored to the needs of the local community so the public is advised to call ahead to their nearest Salvation Army church to check if they are running an appeal, what items they can donate and the deadline for when to hand them in by, as these details may vary. All donations are welcome, however used products are not appropriate for this appeal.
In Norfolk alone, more than 11,500 toys were distributed to families last year.
Hazel Sommerville, coordinator for The Salvation Army’s ‘Toys & Tins’ appeal in Norwich said: “It’s wonderful to imagine children’s faces light up when they open their Christmas presents. If you have children, grandchildren, or children you support, think of what they might like in their Christmas stocking and consider buying an extra present and donating it. We’re asking for brand-new toys or gifts so the families we support feel extra special.”
The Salvation Army works throughout the year to provide compassionate support, a listening ear and practical help to people who are vulnerable or in need.
For more information about the Christmas Present Appeal, please contact your nearest participating Salvation Army church or centre by finding them on our website (www.salvationarmy.org.uk).
Gift ideas for children and young people:
• 0-3 years: soft toys, colourful and fun educational toys, cot mobiles, baby clothes, bath toys, CDs of suitable music and nursery rhymes;
• 3-5 years: books, dressing up clothes, cars, lorries, dolls, action figures and soft toys, colourful and fun educational toys, CDs (music, stories and nursery rhymes), suitable DVDS, colouring sets, pencils, crayons, books, puzzles, footballs;
• 5-9 years: dolls and action figures, educational games and toys, stationery (colouring sets, pencils, crayons, school sets), CDs and family friendly DVDs, books, puzzles, word search, crosswords, skateboards, sports equipment and clothing;
• 9-12 years: games and toys, sports equipment and clothing, stationery, CDs, DVDs, books, T-Shirts, hair ornaments, gloves, scarves, hats;
• 13-16 years: CDs, DVDs, books, toiletries (please try to ensure non-allergic ingredients if possible), gloves, scarves, hats and other fashion accessories.