DARLINGTON’S residents are urged to help spread festive cheer to families in need as the Salvation Army launches its annual toy appeal.

The public’s generosity meant more than 700 disadvantaged children were able to unwrap gifts on Christmas morning last year.

Year after year, poverty-stricken families have been reminded that they are not forgotten when residents dig deep for the Salvation Army Toy appeal and help to shower youngsters around the town with gifts and festive treats.

The number of people helped via the appeal has grown consistently each year, with organisers expecting demand to increase further this festive season as more people are left struggling to make ends meet following the introduction of Universal Credit to the area.

Salvation Army ministers Shirley and Marc McKenzie spearheaded the appeal for the first time in 2017 and were staggered at the response.

Mrs McKenzie said she hopes the generosity of the public will mean every child in need can wake up to a gift this Christmas morning.

This year, the appeal also encompasses festive hampers, with businesses and individuals encouraged to donate tasty treats and festive foods or pay £25 to sponsor a hamper.

Mrs McKenzie said: “We know this makes a difference when we hear about how families’ faces light up with hope for Christmas and it is amazing that we can be part of the chain that makes that happen.

“It’s lovely to hear stories from families who benefited and who would not have received anything on Christmas otherwise.

“There are families out there in real need of support and the gifts and hampers are brilliant as they feel able to have a bit extra for Christmas that they wouldn’t have been able to afford.

“Christmas, from a Christian point of view, is about giving and love and value and so is this.”

  • The appeal will run until Saturday, December 8 and there will be collection points for donations of new toys, gifts and hamper items – such as festive biscuits, selection boxes, tinned food and other non-perishable treats – around the town, including at the Footprints shop, the Friends Meeting House, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda.
  • They can also be dropped into the Salvation Army headquarters on Thompson Street East by appointment or on any Saturday morning. Donations can be made at the Salvation Army’s upcoming Christmas fair on Saturday, November 17 from 10am until 2pm.