Help make Christmas special for needy kids

Today sees the launch of the Gazette's annual Christmas Toy Appeal run in partnership with charity Hope 4 Kidz.

Viv Watts of Hope 4 Kidz.
Viv Watts of Hope 4 Kidz.

For many families in the area the run-up to the big day is still one of worry – and the cost of living crisis means that this year the need for help is greater than it has ever been.

So, as readers gear up for the festive season, we are once again asking you to find just a little extra – one more gift which will bring a smile to a child’s face on Christmas Day.

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This is the ninth year the Gazette – along with our sister paper the Sunderland Echo – has teamed up with Hope 4 Kidz - which supports disabled and disadvantaged young people.

The Christmas Toy Appeal logo.

Last year – thanks to your generosity – over 4,500 children received a collective £35,000 worth of presents on Christmas Day – gifts they would otherwise not have received.

Hope 4 Kidz chief executive, Viv Watts, said: “The last few years have been very difficult for charities supporting people in need.

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"Thankfully, the amazing generosity of people and businesses in the South Tyneside and Sunderland area has shone through and we are asking for one more effort to ensure children in hospitals, refuges and young carers get something this Christmas.”

She added: “The generosity of the people here is a credit to our area and the current cost of living crisis is a challenge for everyone.

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Just some of the toys donated to last year's Christmas appeal.

"But your kindness for others who are less fortunate or going through strife out of their control, will make all the difference to the families who will be able give their children gifts on Christmas Morning.

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“Last year was a staggering effort in wake of the pandemic and every donation meant something to a child.

"It would be fantastic to do that again.”

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Ross Robertson, Editor of the Shields Gazette, said: “Every year our readers astound us with the generosity they show in our annual appeal and we hope that this year will be no exception.

Simone Nasar with some of the presents from The Gym in South Shields last year.
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"We do appreciate how difficult times are for a great many people at the moment because of the economic situation but we you all in advance for the way in which you respond to our appeal.”

Drop off points have already been set up at shops and supermarkets all over the area and people are being invited to buy one extra toy or selection box and leave them in the collection bins and trolleys.

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People are asked to please not to wrap the donations.

Drop off points in South Shields are at Morrisons, in Ocean Road, The Gym, at Crossgates, and Café Mio, in Sunderland Road.

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Other drop off points in the area are at Sainsbury’s Washington store and its stores in Silksworth and Wessington Way, Sunderland; Virgin Money, in Fawcett Street, Sunderland, Wilkinsons, The BIC Hub Washington, Hayes Travel, in Vine Place, Sunderland; Santander in Waterloo Place, Sundeland, and

the Everyone Active Centres at Hetton Community Pool, Silksworth Sports and Ski Slope, Silksworth Tennis Centre and Washington Leisure Centre.

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The last day for donations at office collection points is December 16 - and December 19 for stores and leisure centres.

For more information about the appeal or to become a beneficiary, email [email protected] with contact number and organisation details.