The Salvation Army is preparing to deliver Christmas presents and food parcels to 1,348 families across Norfolk following referrals from more than 40 agencies, including YMCA Norfolk.
Referrals to The Salvation Army’s annual Toys & Tins Appeal closed on November 23; however, numbers are expected to rise as people can also contact The Salvation Army direct if they need support. Donations of new, unwrapped toys and non-perishable food are needed to help The Salvation Army meet demand.
Major Barry Willson, coordinator of the Toys & Tins Appeal, said: “During the Christmas season, when many are enjoying celebrations with friends and family, others are struggling to make ends meet.
“The agencies we work with have identified a number of reasons why their clients need support, including unemployment and low income, mental health issues and disabilities, and financial pressures because of delays in benefits.
“The Christmas Story inspires us as a church to reach out to those in need but we need your help. Please consider donating new toys and non-perishable food to the sleigh in The Forum in Norwich or your nearest Salvation Army centre.
“If you need support or know someone who does, please contact your local Salvation Army as soon as possible so we can arrange a hamper in time for Christmas.”
One of the organisations that refer clients to the appeal is YMCA Norfolk.
Lucy White, 38, was one of thousands of people who benefited from last year’s appeal. She was referred by YMCA Norfolk after becoming homeless and moving in to one of their centres that provides safe and supportive accommodation for single-parent families.
Lucy said: “I became homeless and moved into YMCA Norfolk housing in December. Being so close to Christmas, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get anything for my daughter.
“Then the toys and tins were delivered to us and it made the Christmas very special, especially as my daughter had been asking for a specific toy and the Play-Doh set was in the hamper.
“I was very impressed that they had geared the gifts to my daughter’s age range and I was very surprised there was some adult related things in there too as I will devote all of my money towards her rather than myself.”
Lucy now has a job and is hoping to move into her own home with her daughter and partner in the coming year. She said: “I think that the Toys and Tins Appeal is wonderful. It helps struggling families that have been left with very little have a wonderful Christmas”
Darryl Smith, Operations Director at YMCA Norfolk, said: “The YMCA and The Salvation Army work closely throughout the year, especially to support people who are rough sleeping, but many people may not realise the YMCA refers families who need extra support at Christmas to The Salvation Army’s Toys & Tins Appeal.
“The collaboration enables some very vulnerable families that are being supported by the YMCA to receive kindness from our community in the giving of toys and tins and other items which can make such a difference at this time of year.”
For more than 30 years, The Salvation Army’s Toys & Tins Appeal has been transforming Christmas for families in need across Norfolk.
People are invited to donate new, unused gifts for children aged 0 to 17 years old and non-perishable food. Donations can be delivered to the sleigh at The Forum in Norwich or any Salvation Army centre or shop in Norfolk.
Gifts can include anything from soft and educational toys for the very youngest child, to gift vouchers and toiletries for older teenagers. The family food hampers include festive treats such as Christmas puddings, mince pies and chocolates in addition to tinned goods.