Big thanks as 3,000+ gifts make it a record year for Sunderland Echo Christmas appeal

Fundraisers Carla Cuthbertson and Julie Reay, right, with Sunderland Echo's Gavin Foster, left, and Sainsbury's Rob Frazer, and trolleys of Christmas gifts.
Fundraisers Carla Cuthbertson and Julie Reay, right, with Sunderland Echo's Gavin Foster, left, and Sainsbury's Rob Frazer, and trolleys of Christmas gifts.
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Christmas was extra special this year for hundreds of Wearside children and their families thanks to your amazing generosity.

More than 3,000 gifts - and we are still counting - were donated to the appeal, helping youngsters most in need enjoy the festive season.

Hope4Kidz Aimee Burns, left, receives Christmas gifts collected by Hays Travel staff, Emma Nelson, Dianne Maskery and Kirsty Calvert.

Hope4Kidz Aimee Burns, left, receives Christmas gifts collected by Hays Travel staff, Emma Nelson, Dianne Maskery and Kirsty Calvert.

Viv Watts, chief executive of Hope4Kidz, the charity helping to co-ordinated this year’s Echo Toy Appeal, said: “We are just overwhelmed by the generosity of people.

“People are truly amazing and we would just like them to know that their gifts really do make such a difference to so many lives.”

And it wasn’t just children who benefited – scores of pensioners, needy families and the homeless also benefited from your amazing response to our Echo Toy Appeal.

Sunderland 1973 FA Cup hero Bobby Kerr also showed his support by helping to hand out gifts to youngsters at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Aimee Burn, from Hope4Kidz, collecting toys from Asda Ryhope for the 2015 Echo Toy Appeal.

Aimee Burn, from Hope4Kidz, collecting toys from Asda Ryhope for the 2015 Echo Toy Appeal.

The appeal was launched at the end of November in partnership with Hope4Kidz, a Wearside­ based charity which supports children and young people suffering from a physical or mental disability.

Hope4Kidz started the appeal with a request for selection boxes to help its children’s Christmas party go with a swing.

Viv said: “Every year we hold a Christmas party for children to help them escape the stresses and strains of their everyday lives and have fun with children in a similar situation to themselves.

“The response to our appeal was truly amazing. More than 400 children attended the party and had a whale of time.”

Michael Moody and Julie Barrass, from Asda George Washington with Viv Watts, from Hope4Kidz, collectim items for the 2015 Echo Toy Appeal. The collection was organised by Rhoda Ellis not in photo

Michael Moody and Julie Barrass, from Asda George Washington with Viv Watts, from Hope4Kidz, collectim items for the 2015 Echo Toy Appeal. The collection was organised by Rhoda Ellis not in photo

Viv added: “We have been collecting and delivering gifts almost everyday and we just cannot thank people enough for responding so generously.”

Among those who helped to make the appeal such a success were our designated collection points without whose help this would not be possible.

They are: Sainsbury’s, Silksworth; Sainsbury’s Wessington Way and Washington; Morrisons Seaburn and Doxford Park, Asda Ryhope, Virgin Money, city centre, Hays Travel, Vine Place and Hope4Kidz.

Thanks also go to Michael and Sharon Downey, of Illusions Club in Sunderland, for sponsoring the children’s Christmas party, Gentoo, Asda George at Washington, Arriva and all the other businesses who contributed so generously.

Aimee Burns, from Hope4Kidz, picking up toys from Sainsbury Wessington Way for the 2015 Echo Toy Appeal

Aimee Burns, from Hope4Kidz, picking up toys from Sainsbury Wessington Way for the 2015 Echo Toy Appeal