For many, the run-up to Christmas is a time of worry and unhappiness.
One Sunderland single mother-of-two is mourning the loss of her partner.
Struggling to pay her way, she is one of the needy families who will share in the Echo Toy Appeal.
The 42-year-old turned for help to the George Hudson Charity, which helps mothers like her who are in need, after reading about it in the Echo.
With a five-year-old who has major learning difficulties and the mental age of a two-year-old – which means he is still in nappies, can’t talk and needs constant care – this mother also has a 12-year-old girl.
She said: “There’s thousands in Sunderland struggling like me. Christmas is a worry. You have to have something for your children and when you are just getting by, there’s no money left for Christmas.”
Counting every penny, she sometimes has just a slice of toast to eat all day, wears a dressing gown on top of her clothes to keep warm and save on the heating until the children come home from school.
She said: “By the time you pay your bills and buy food, there’s nothing really for presents. I’ve got a few £1 things for them and I will have to go into debt to get them something more.”
Our appeal helps scores from turning to loan sharks and starting the new year in debt.
Sharing in your wonderful donations are some of the very poorest in this city and we will also be helping two long-established Sunderland charities, dating from the 1800s – the George Hudson Charity and Sunderland Orphanage Educational Foundation.
The need is massive and we are counting on you to make the Echo Toy Appeal a success.
You can leave your gifts at collection points across the city. Please give only new toys and mark your unwrapped gifts “boy” or “girl”, stating the age range they are for. As well as toys, we need toiletries for men, gloves, socks, smellies and gifts for mothers. We also need tins and festive fare.