St Stephen’s Church in Redditch town centre launched a toy appeal this year which will enable Christmas presents to be given to around 600 children who wouldn’t otherwise have received anything.
The appeal has been organised by churchwarden Elaine Whitfield, who has worked with local charity Acts of Kindness to reach families who are really struggling this Christmas. There have been collections of toys at different locations throughout Redditch, and people have also been able to leave donations in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre and at the Redditch Standard newspaper’s offices as well as at St Stephen’s.
Elaine said: “The generosity of people has been very humbling. I took my VW Campervan to the collection points and people were turning up with boot-loads of toys. Most of us have so much and it’s really lovely to be able to pass that forward to others.”
Both the Redditch Standard and the Kingfisher Centre have been supporting the campaign. The newspaper has featured it every couple of weeks and the Kingfisher Centre has let the team use an empty shop where parents can come and choose gifts for their children, as well as providing banners and giving a donation of £1000.
“It has been a real coming together of resources and community,” continued Elaine. “Families are signposted to us through the Acts of Kindness charity or the foodbank and are given a voucher which allows them to choose gifts for their children up to the value of about £30.
We’re trying to make it as much like a shopping experience for those parents as we can – they can choose something appropriate as they know their child better than anyone. We’ll also provide them with wrapping paper.”
The toy appeal shop opened on Monday 13 December and will run all week. They have gifts suitable for ages 0 – 18 and also have some vouchers if parents can’t find anything appropriate. The campaign was also supported with a £500 contribution from Amazon.
“We hope to be able to give children 2 or 3 presents to unwrap on Christmas day and would like to be able to help anyone who needs the service – even if they’ve not been given a voucher,” said Elaine. “It’s a great way to be out in the community and I hope we’ll be able to do it again next year – I’ve already got ideas on how we can make it even better!”