THOUSANDS of pounds worth of gifts are to be handed to special needs and disadvantaged youngsters as part of a festive charity drive.
Pennywell-based Hope4Kidz, which helps children affected by illness, hardship and disability across the North East, began distributing donated presents this week.
The programme has been hailed a huge success.
“This is a wonderful time of year for most of us,” said Viv Watts, chief executive of Hope4Kidz.
“But there are youngsters in our region that may not have Christmas presents due to unfortunate circumstances.
“It with the help of Sun FM, Benfield Ford and The Bridges and the very generous people of Sunderland, that our small charity can make a big difference to those children who are so deserving.
“And for the children to escape the stresses and strains of their everyday life and have fun on Christmas Day with the donated toys.
“From all at Hope4Kidz and the beneficiaries, we send heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped with the appeals.”
Sun FM has supported the past five drives, which has helped bring Christmas cheer to more than 7,500 young people and community groups.
Helen Edmondson, managing director of Sun FM, said: “This year the Sun FM Christmas Appeal was for new toys, which are kindly being distributed to disadvantaged children in Sunderland and the surrounding areas by Hope4Kidz.
“The generosity is truly amazing, especially as Sunderland is still suffering from the recession.
“We want to express our thanks to everyone who has donated a toy which will make a child very happy this Christmas.
“Thank you so much.”
Sarah King, regional marketing manager at The Bridges, said the shopping centre was overwhelmed by the support for the collection.
“Christmas is an expensive time and for too many children that means they have to go without through no fault of their own,” she said. “This time of year is all about giving and this is the perfect opportunity to give something back to people who are less fortunate than us.”
Paul Rogers, regional director at Benfield Ford, said the company provided a Transit van to help boost the collection.
“It has been buzzing around the region picking up presents for less fortunate kids from around the Sunderland area,” he said.
“Hope4Kidz is a fantastic charity and a great cause.
“As a family business, Benfield are pleased to try and help make Christmas a happier time for children around the region.”
For more information about Hope4Kidz or to receive toys from the appeal, call 534 7788, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hope4kidz.org.uk