A CHRISTMAS present giveaway in Darlington was launched last Saturday (November 27) after one local man had the idea to help the needy at what is often a difficult time of year.

Barry Jonas, a window and door designer from Darlington, decided to use his own money to buy children’s Christmas toys and asked for donations to spread some festive joy to those who may not receive gifts otherwise.

Darlington’s own Father Christmas posted into a Darlington community Facebook group, ‘You Know You’re From Darlo When’ on November 19 asking people to tag anyone who may wish to use the service and that if there were too many, he would pick the names from a hat.

The Northern Echo: Spreading Christmas cheer to families across Darlington last weekendSpreading Christmas cheer to families across Darlington last weekend

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Barry said: “The response I got from that post was amazing.

“I was really surprised that so many people wanted to help out and donate gifts.

“I also had a lot of messages from local parents asking to be added to the list of houses to visit.

“I know how much pride these people will have had to swallow to ask for help and it’s heart-breaking to be honest.”

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Barry said he’d like to thank Liam Anderson, Billy Stainthorp and Darren Aspey for helping deliver the gifts.

"I couldn't have done it without them. It was definitely a team effort," Barry said.

“We’re in the process of setting up a group to support those in need all year round for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Christenings etc.

“The group will be called S.I.N.G. which stands for Support In Need Group.

“We are looking at doing this again before Christmas but it depend on funds,” Barry said.

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Storm Arwen unfortunately threw a spanner in the works and Barry’s original plan of having a convoy of bikes to deliver the gifts wasn’t doable in the bad weather, so cars were used instead.

When arriving outside the various addresses, Santa’s helpers distracted the children while parents/guardians were taken to a car to pick out some Christmas gifts, either labelled boy or girl.

24 families were helped, and additional selection boxes were also handed out to children passing by.

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Barry said: “We did knock on a couple of wrong doors, oops, so we ended up helping two extra families.”

Barry and his two daughters handed out the leftover selection boxes in Darlington town centre on Sunday (November 28) with positive messages written on them, sparking a great reaction on the ‘You Know You’re From Darlo When’ Facebook page.

The Northern Echo: The leftover selection boxes were handed out to shoppers outside The Cornmill Centre in Darlington last Sunday. Barry's daughters wrote positive messages on them to lift people's spiritsThe leftover selection boxes were handed out to shoppers outside The Cornmill Centre in Darlington last Sunday. Barry's daughters wrote positive messages on them to lift people's spirits

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One Facebook user said: “What a lovely gesture at this time of year.”

Another said: “After a really rough couple of months and dreading Christmas this small act of kindness meant the world.”

Another said: “Oh how lovely if only everyone could show a little kindness the world would be a much better place.”


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