Last week volunteers began filling sacks with presents as The Mayor’s Toy Appeal got underway for 2023. Its aim is to gather and distribute as many new toys and gifts for disadvantaged children in the town and wider Borough.
The charity’s temporary headquarters is located on the second floor in Royal Victoria Place and opened last Thursday (November 9).
Planning for the appeal, which saw 680 children receive gifts last year, started back in April. Trevor Crawford, who has taken over this year’s appeal from Karen Collins, told the Times: “We work closely with social workers and agencies to create a wishlist of gifts for children based on their interests.
“Our volunteers will move around our headquarters, picking gifts for children and placing them into a sack. Our volunteers even ensure that siblings do not receive the same presents or that one receives more than the other.”
There’s a variety of toys for children and teenagers, up to the age of 18. LEGO sets are always popular, Trevor explains, with stacked boxes of construction toys lining a whole wall. Soft toys, puzzles, toiletries, and books are also on offer.
The Barbie doll is in demand this year, Trevor says, no doubt due to the release of the hit film in July. There are also a number of sensory toys for children with disabilities.
Gifts are donated by members of the public, and many presents are donated by local businesses too.
Beneficiary families are referred to the appeal, which started in 1987, from Social Services, churches, schools and other agencies.
This year, Trevor and his team of volunteers will be at RTW Together’s Big Reveal light switch-on events. A large Teddy Mayor bear will also be inflated today (Wednesday November 15) and can be located in the Upper Mall of RVP.
The charity is operating from a pop-up shop, lent to them by RVP, opposite Taste of the Wells on the Upper Mall throughout November and early December. Other donation points can be found at Maddisons Residential on The Pantiles, St George’s Childcare on Chilston Road, The Amelia Scott on Mount Pleasant Road, Trinity Theatre, Royal Victoria Place and Barsleys in Paddock Wood.
Donated presents must be brand new and appropriate for specific age groups. The Giving Trees at Royal Victoria Place and St George’s Childcare will once again feature in this year’s appeal, giving children the chance to tie their Christmas wishes to the tree to be fulfilled by those wishing to donate a present. Residents can also give gifts via the charity’s Amazon Wish List, details of which can be found on their website.
To find out more about the Mayor’s Toy Appeal, visit the website at twmta.co.uk, or follow the charity on Instagram @mayorstoyappealtw.