GENEROUS Wearsiders have their last chance to make a child’s Christmas dream come true this weekend.
The Salvation Army Christmas Present Appeal is about to come to an end, after another successful year collecting gifts for families in need.
Shoppers buying Christmas goodies are being asked to buy an extra gift to donate to the appeal, before presents are handed out next week.
Volunteers at the charity’s base in Southwick are busy wrapping hundreds of presents already handed over by kind-hearted people.
Last year 7,000 children in the North East unwrapped gifts donated to the appeal, including Sunderland’s Dixon family.
Anthony Dixon was homeless and living rough for three months before coming to The Salvation Army Swan Lodge Lifehouse in High Street East.
From there the 25-year-old was given help to turn his life around, completing a course in community development, before moving back in with his partner and their young daughter.
Unable to afford presents, he turned to the gift appeal and will do so again this year, as he carries out Jobcentre courses while looking for work.
Now a dad-of-two, Anthony said: “When you can’t afford presents for your kids, it is actually heartbreaking.
“If people keep giving, it means a hell of a lot, as it gives families support and help in the present and in the future.”
Captain Howard Russell, divisional director for Community Services, said: “We know many families are really struggling and that’s why more than ever, The Salvation Army needs your support this year.
“By giving a gift to our Christmas Present Appeal you can make a real difference in someone’s life at Christmas.”
Unwrapped gifts suitable for children aged from birth to 16 can be left at any Salvation Army church, community centre or charity shop and anywhere displaying a Christmas Present Appeal poster, including Jennings Ford car dealerships and Superdrug stores.
Suggestions include soft and educational toys for young children to CDs, games, action figures and accessories for older children, especially teenage boys, who the Salvation Army said are often forgotten in gift appeals.
Presents will then be handed out to children and families referred through The Salvation Army’s own networks, local groups and Social Services.
Second-hand gifts and food items cannot be accepted.
More information is available at www.salvationarmy.org.uk/christmasappeal.