Echo Toy Appeal: Can you help a child smile this Christmas?

Hope4kidz Viv Watts and Illusions Nightclub's Joe Gullis are joined by youngsters from Sunningdale School to launch the Toy Appeal.
Hope4kidz Viv Watts and Illusions Nightclub's Joe Gullis are joined by youngsters from Sunningdale School to launch the Toy Appeal.
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Today sees the launch of our annual toy appeal and once again we have teamed up with Wearside charity Hope 4 Kidz in the hope of making Christmas Day just a little bit more special for the many disadvantaged and special needs children in our area.

Last year, thanks to your generosity, more than 3,500 children woke up to a special gift and we hope that you will again help us to raise a smile on a child’s face this Christmas.

Former Sunderland FC player Bobby Kerr hands Christmas gifts to patients Macey Pearce, Jazib Ahmed, Mitchell Pearce and Jared Caliza, at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Former Sunderland FC player Bobby Kerr hands Christmas gifts to patients Macey Pearce, Jazib Ahmed, Mitchell Pearce and Jared Caliza, at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Gifts were delivered to hospitals, women’s refuges and special needs units around Wearside in time for the big day.

We are appealing for gifts suitable not just for young children but also young adults, who are often forgotten. Donations, such as toys, clothing, smellies and chocolates, must be new and can be left at one of our many designated collection points.

Gavin Foster, Managing Editor of the Sunderland Echo, said: “Every year our readers have astounded us with their generosity and we hope that this year will be no exception. We appreciate how difficult times are for many families and thank you all for the wonderful way in which you respond to our appeal.”

Hope 4 Kidz, which helps children and young people across the region, will also be hosting its annual Santa’s Christmas party at Illusion nightclub, Sunderland, on Sunday, December 4, and is appealing for selection boxes to give the young guests.

Last year more than 400 children attended and had a whale of time meeting The Super Heroes, balloon artist, playing games and dancing as well as meeting the big man himself, Santa. This year more than 450 guests are expected at this free event.

The party is an opportunity for children, many of whom are suffering from long term illnesses, disability, abuse and poverty, to feel special and forget their problems.

Viv Watts, of Hope 4 Kidz, said: “It is fantastic to see the children and their families enjoy their time at Santa’s Christmas party because it gives them a chance to escape the stresses and strains of their everyday life and have fun with other youngsters in a similar situation.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so at one of our designated collections points by Monday, December 19. These are at: Morrisons, Seaburn, Morrisons, Doxford Park, Hays Travel, Santander, Virgin Money Fawcett Street, Virgin Money The Bridges, Tesco The Bridges, Wilkinsons and Hope 4 Kidz office, Pennywell,