Watch as Christmas comes early thanks to toy collective helping South Tyneside families with cost of living crisis

Christmas arrived early for families who were able to pick-up a wide range of pre-loved children’s toys at an event designed to help with the cost of living.

Hundreds of items including dolls houses, kitchen sets and board games, had been donated and were on display for free collection across the weekend (Saturday, November 26 and Sunday, November 27) from Ocean Road Community Centre in South Shields.

The collection was set up by Beacon and Bents ward councillor, Sarah McKeown, and dozens of families turned out to enjoy a free early Christmas shop.

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Cllr McKeown said: “With the cost-of-living crisis at the moment, many people are really struggling and new toys can cost a fortune. We wanted to do something to help in the run-up to Christmas and we’ve had hundreds of donations of good quality toys, some of which have hardly been used.

"We’ve had donations from lots of local schools who’ve been holding their own collections. The reaction from people has been really positive and some people have managed to get themselves fully kitted out for Christmas.”

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Cllr McKeown, who represents the Green Party, was also keen to stress the environmental as well financial benefits.

She added: “Recycling these toys is also much more sustainable as many of these products are made of plastic and would only end up in landfill.”

Councillor Sarah McKeown at the free toy collective in South Shields on Saturday, November 26.

A number of people who went away with bags of goodies had exchanged them for toys they’d donated. One of those was Was Adam Clarke, 35, from Boldon, who picked up some early Christmas presents for his children, Eden, three, and Dax, one.

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He said: “I’ve picked up some games, books and crafts kits – the quality is really good and some of the stuff seems brand new. I think it’s a great idea to be able to pass toys on once your kids have finished using them. My children will get just as much enjoyment out of these pre-loved toys and so there’s no need to constantly buy new items and create more waste.”

Mary Barry, 79, from South Shields added: “I used to recycle toys years ago with friends and so this is a wonderful idea. I’ve got a Peppa Pig for my granddaughter and I’m also looking to pick up some food items to go with her tea set.”

Joseph Pilkington, 60, with granddaughter Alula, aged one.

Joseph Pilkington, 60, from Hebburn was there with one-year-old granddaughter Alula. He told the Gazette: “It’s a great idea and it’s amazing to see people’s kindness with the number of toys which have been donated as things can get tight for people in the run-up to Christmas. Alula loves Hey Duggee and Iggle Piggle. We were going to get her these cuddly toys for Christmas and we’ve managed to find them both here.”

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Lori Kumar, 38, also from South Shields added: “This is a great help for people struggling with the cost of living crisis in the run-up to Christmas.”

The initiative also got the seal of approval from children Nisha and Leon.

Leon, four, added: “I’ve got lots of animal toys. It’s an early Christmas present.”

Adam Clarke, 35, with some of the toys he picked up.