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Salvation Army’s festive help for Sunderland

Graham Wharton of the Salvation Army, Austin House, Shakespeare Street, Southwick, Sunderland.

Graham Wharton of the Salvation Army, Austin House, Shakespeare Street, Southwick, Sunderland.

More than 200 Christmas presents were handed out to poverty-stricken families in Sunderland by the Salavation Army this year.

The organisation’s annual toy appeal has been running in the city for 37 years.

Donations from generous Wearsiders were dropped off at Salvation Army centres across Sunderland in the run-up to the festive season.

Their presents were then wrapped up and handed out to children and families through charity’s various networks.

Julie Judson, a member of the church’s community project at Austin House in Shakespeare Street, Southwick, said: “For as long as I can remember, the Salvation Army has had a toy appeal.

“I think it just gives the families a little bit of a boost. For some families, it can be utility bills and food for Christmas – you still have everything to cover – so it is there to make a better Christmas for people.”

The charity also takes donations of food in the weeks before Christmas, which, while not suitable for the toy appeal, are handed out as food parcels.

Graham Wharton, manager of the Austin House family project, claims that help and donations are needed now more than ever because of changes in the benefits system.

He said: “We found, some months ago, that there was a big change in people moving from employment support allowance onto jobseeker’s allowance.

“Some families who were changing over in benefits were actually experiencing a delay from four to six weeks.

“This trend slightly continued, but it certainly does not seem to be as huge as it used to be.

“However, how do you feed a family if you’re not getting any money at all?”

To find out more about how to help the Salvation Army help others, visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk.

 

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