Houghton church’s Christmas appeal aims to ‘give dignity to parents’

A Houghton church has launched an appeal for toys and cash spread a little Christmas joy to those who need it the most.

Bethany Church on Hetton Road has contacted schools and other organisations in the area, to establish where donated toys should go.

Once invited – and it is invitation only – parents can go along on December 8 and buy up to five toys for each child in their family.

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The initiative is not simple charity. Toys are not free, but only cost £1 each. The idea is that parents have the dignity of knowing that they have bought and paid for the kids’ Christmas presents.

Bethany’s family ministry leader Craig Scott is running the campaign.

The idea for the toy scheme came two years ago when a woman told staff that her family had decided to donate toys, rather than give each other gifts. She then gave them to Bethany to distribute. The church also runs a food bank.

Bethany’s family ministry leader Craig Scott said: “We weren’t sure what to do with the toys. Then a guy came in for a food parcel and told us he had three kids and was struggling. It was one of those moments.

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“I told him to pick what he wanted and take them away. He was very shy about it, but very grateful.

“Every year we have a Christmas appeal. We normally do food hampers. We’ve been blessed with monetary gifts this year and that was covered. So we’ve put all our efforts into the Christmas shop.

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Bethany Church can take donations of new toys, Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm.

“This isn’t open to everybody. We’ve contacted Houghton schools and organisations and asked where help is needed most.

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“We’re not giving the toys away, but selling them at a drastically reduced price. It’s to give the parents the dignity of being able to choose what they want. It would be very easy for us to buy toys then hand them out.

“A massive thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.”

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Bethany’s family ministry leader Craig Scott is running the toys campaign.
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The toys can be wrapped at the church if necessary.

Bethany’s has a £5,000 target which is receiving contributions via its GoFundMe page. Toy donations can be made in person by dropping them off at the church, which is open Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm.