Much-needed Christmas cheer for hundreds of Sunderland children

Viv Watts (centre) from Hope4Kidz with Mark Hepton and Stacey Hetherington from Illusion Nightclub and children from Sunningdale School.
Viv Watts (centre) from Hope4Kidz with Mark Hepton and Stacey Hetherington from Illusion Nightclub and children from Sunningdale School.
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CHARITY bosses are starting the Christmas season in style this Sunday – but they need your help.

The Sunderland Echo has teamed up with Hope 4 Kidz for this year’s Toy Appeal, and is once again asking Wearsiders to donate to the various drop-off points across the city.

We’re also asking for chocolate treats to give out to disadvantaged and special-needs youngsters this weekend.

Hope 4 Kidz, which helps children and young people across the North East, is hosting its annual Santa’s Christmas party at Illusion nightclub, Sunderland, on Sunday, for more than 450 youngsters, all struggling to overcome long-term illness, disability and other problems, such as poverty and abuse.

The free party is designed to give the youngsters a chance to escape their problems for an afternoon, with live entertainment.

Guests will also have the chance to meet Santa, have their faces painted and enjoy a free buffet, before taking part in a host of party games and dancing the afternoon away with a live DJ.

Last year, as well as the party guests, more than 3,000 children’s gifts were delivered to hospitals, hospices, women’s refuges and special needs’ units across the region in time for Christmas.

Viv Watts, from 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 young people a chance to escape the stresses and strains of their everyday life and have fun with other youngsters in a similar situation.

“We are extremely grateful to Michael and Sharon Downey of Illusion nightclub for sponsoring the party, by donating the use of the club, providing the staff and the DJ.”

To help with the appeal, Sharon and Michael are giving a 50 per cent discount on food at The Establishment, in Bar Low Row, Sunderland, in exchange for a selection box.

Anyone wanting to donate a selection box or toy is being asked to drop off their items, by Wednesday, December 17, at one of the charity’s designated collections points: The Bridges, Sunderland; Matalan, Pallion; Sainsbury’s, Sunderland; Sainsbury’s North, Redhouse; Sainsbury’s, Fulwell; Sainsbury’s, Washington; Volunteers Centre, Sunderland; Morrisons PLC, Seaburn; Morrisons PLC, Doxford Park and Hope 4 Kidz Office, Pennywell.

For further information about Hope 4 Kidz, or to attend Santa’s Christmas Party, call the charity direct on 534 7788, email or log on to