Hundreds of Wearside youngsters will enjoy a Christmas to remember tomorrow – thanks to the kindness of Echo readers.
Scores of pensioners, homeless folk and needy families have also been given a helping hand through your Yuletide generosity.
“The number of donations to the Echo’s Christmas Toy Appeal this year has broken all records,” said editor John Szymanski.
“It is amazing that, in these tough economic times, Wearsiders just keep on giving - and giving. We want to thank them all.
“A great many people rely on our appeal for a little Christmas cheer. Your donations have made a real difference to them.”
Thousands of gifts have flowed into checkpoints around the city since the Toy Appeal was launched back in November.
Many will go to mams and children in four refuges run by Wearside Women in Need (WWIN), which offers emergency shelter and support.
Pensioners city-wide, as well as vulnerable families recommended by social workers and health visitors, will receive a share too.
And other good causes – such as the B2B project at Hendon and Ashkirk Homeless Project at Lakeside – have benefitted as well.
“I don’t think there can be a kinder city in the whole of the UK,” said Claire Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need.
“Every year we worry people won’t be able to afford to give, but this year’s generosity has surpassed anything we’ve ever seen.
“We live in a city full of kindness and compassion. It is humbling, and very moving, to witness the kindness of so many people.”
Among those to help the appeal this year was Hetton grandmother Rose Blake, who knitted 42 beautiful dolls’ outfits.
Rose, a retired clerical worker, spent 12 months on the project - and has already started knitting again for next year’s appeal.
“My grandchildren always get a lot at Christmas, and it makes me sad to think other children might not get anything,” she said.
“I think I’ve made around 250 outfits for the appeal over the past six years. It is for such a good cause - and I enjoy it too.”
Staff at the Royal Mail call centre at Doxford Park also took this year’s appeal to their hearts - collecting £300 in donations.
“We thought it was important to help local people at Christmas, and the Toy Appeal was the ideal way to do it,” said a spokesman.
Gentoo, EDF Energy, Barclays, Tescos, Morrisons, Sunderland University and Sainsburys stores city-wide all provided support too.
As did Hays Travel, the Rotary Club, Easington Lane Community Access Point and the parishioners of St Paul’s Church at Ryhope.
“We wanted to do our bit for the appeal, as it was for such a good cause. We were delighted to help out,” said Rev David Chadwick.
Volunteers at WWIN will be working through the night on Christmas Eve, to ensure all appeal donations are passed on to the needy.
“Everything we could conceivably need has been delivered through the appeal - from gifts to wrapping paper and food,” said Claire.
“We will be able to help hundreds of people, from babies to the elderly, who would otherwise have found Christmas a great struggle.
“We can even make sure people don’t go without food or heating at Christmas, thanks to the donations. Every single gift is treasured.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to absolutely everyone who has helped. They have really shown the true spirit of Christmas.”
A big THANK YOU to all these stores - and more - for helping out
Royal Mail Call Centre - Doxford Park
George Distribution - Washington
Wind Prospect - Belmont, Durham
Hellens Group - Washington
EDF Energy - Doxford Park
Hays Travel – 25 Vine Place
Tescos – The Bridges
Morrisons – Doxford Park
Morrisons – Seaburn
Sainsburys – Silksworth
Sainsburys – Southwick
Sainsburys – Seaham
Sainsburys – Fulwell
Sainsburys – The Galleries
Sainsburys – Teal Farm
Easington Lane Community Access Point
St Paul’s Church – Ryhope
Sunderland Rotary Club