Annual appeal aims to tackle the heartbreak of child poverty at Christmas (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Annual appeal aims to tackle the heartbreak of child poverty at Christmas
GIVE GENEROUSLY: Too many children in the North-East have to go without presents at Christmas. Picture posed by model
As poverty levels approach crisis point, the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas appeal, which is launched today, is more poignant than ever before. Andy Walker reports.
IN 2011, the Salvation Army helped fulfil the Christmas dreams of 179 children in the Darlington area.
Last year, the figure more than doubled to 366, with a similar surge in demand expected this time around.
For Captain Colin Bradshaw, of Darlington Salvation Army, these heartbreaking figures are a motivating factor that have made him a driving force of the appeal since he came to the town.
Christmas 2013 will be his third as co-ordinator of the fundraising push, which is this year being supported by both The Northern Echo and Darlington Cares, in an effort to build on past successes and make it even more of a triumph.
This year, the campaign has been renamed Darlington Christmas Appeal, as donations of food will be collected as well as toys, in response to the increased demand on food banks in the town and the wider region.
Launched today (Monday, November 4), the partners are appealing for donations of brand-new Christmas presents suitable for boys and girls of any age, as well as cash gifts.
The main aim of the appeal is to give every child in Darlington a Christmas Day to remember.
Darlington residents have showed great generosity in previous years, with tens of thousands of pounds raised and countless presents donated.
Only brand-new toys are needed, with the idea that children who would otherwise go without are given something new and shiny on Christmas Day.
Also needed are contributions of food which will be included in festive hampers given to the neediest families.
Most basic tinned and dried foodstuffs are suitable, but items that would go in a Christmas hamper would be particularly welcomed.
This could include: Christmas puddings, boxes of chocolates, biscuits, custard and rice pudding, as well as tinned vegetables and tinned meat, particularly turkey and salmon.
Contributions are being collected throughout November and can be dropped off at the following locations:
• Darlington Salvation Army Citadel, Thompson Street East, Darlington DL1 3EW (toys, food and cash – make cheques payable to the Salvation Army);
• The Northern Echo offices, Priestgate (toys and food only, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday);
• Footprints book shop, Skinnergate (toys and cash only, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday).
Capt Bradshaw said: “The past two years have seen a big spike in child poverty and based on the kind of growth in demand, we are expecting nearly 500 children will benefit from this year’s appeal.
“Financial donations can be sent to the Salvation Army – the money is a God-send, because it means we can top-up the present fund where it is needed.
“For example, people are very generous and donate a lot of toys for younger children, but in the past, we have seen a lot of donations of toiletries for teenagers.
“We see a shortage of gifts for older children, so one year I spent more than £1,000 on CDs and digital watches.
“We would like the donations to be in by November 30, so then we can see what we have got and what the demand is, so we can make sure we buy the right resources to fit that need and nothing is wasted.”
Darlington Cares, a collective of some of the town’s biggest employers, established in October 2012, with the aim of encouraging workplace volunteering, is also backing this year’s campaign.
Member organisations will be invited to contribute towards the appeal.
Programme manager Katie Blundell said: “The board of Darlington Cares decided to support this initiative, as it was felt to be a particularly worthwhile cause and a way to make sure the gifts we collect go to those who need them most.”
Peter Barron, editor of The Northern Echo, which is a member of Darlington Cares, said: “The Salvation Army does a wonderful job every year, collecting toys and food for needy children and their families.
“This year, we really want to get behind the Salvation Army and do everything we can to support its efforts to make sure that as many families in our area as possible get a Christmas to remember.”
Other Darlington Cares members include Teesside University, Lingfield Point, Marchday, Darlington Borough Council, Darlington Partnership, Harvey and Hugo, Sherwoods, Darlington FC, EE, Sainsbury’s, Cummins, Modus Seabed Intervention, County Durham Community Foundation, Deep Ocean, Handelsbanken, Esh Group and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.
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