THE Salvation Army has launched its annual appeal for hundreds of toys to be given to children in need this Christmas.

The church, which has its Darlington base Thompson Street East, collects piles of presents every year to distribute to the community at Christmas.

Shirley McKenzie, who is organising the appeal, said: "The appeal has grown and grown. People are always really generous so we hope they will be again this year.

"We work with all sorts of agencies from social workers to health workers to try and find the children who are going to benefit from the appeal.

"All of the toys we get we donate locally so they all stay in Darlington.

"Some of these toys go to children who otherwise would not get anything at all which can be heartbreaking."

Last year more than 700 presents were donated by members of the public and given away to children, while 350 hampers were also made up and donated to families in need.

The church is welcoming presents for babies, children and young people under the age of 16.

Anyone who would like to support the hampers project is asked to make a financial donation to allow organisers to buy the items people are in need of.

The church is accepting donations until December 11, when a team of people will start the task of making sure they get to the places where they are most needed.

Toys can be dropped off at the Salvation Army citadel on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday mornings.

Anyone who would like to arrange a drop-off should call 01325 380 994.

The Salvation Army has been running its Christmas present appeal for more than two decades and it is one of its best-known campaigns.

There are appeals running all over the country. To donate to another appeal in the region visit

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