THE Mayor’s Toy Appeal in Tunbridge Wells has received requests for gifts for a ‘record’ number of children this year as the number of families unable to afford Christmas has increased.
The seasonal charity drive has been running since 1987 and aims to ensure children in the borough who might go without due to financial hardship in the family receive Christmas presents.
Gifts come by way of donations, either in cash or as new toys and presents, such as toiletries, bought by generous residents.
Last year, the Toy Appeal gave presents to 560 Tunbridge Wells children aged up to 18.
But this year’s appeal has seen an increase in the number of children to buy presents for increase by more than ten percent, with 620 children at risk of going without this year.
Organiser Karen Collins said there are still ‘gaps’ in the list of presents donated so far.
She told the Times last week: “Last year, we had 560 in total, but now we have 620 so far – a record for the appeal – and we’re only about half-way through. We will probably get some more referrals.”
She added: “People are being very generous, but I reckon we will get up to 650, and this is a considerable number.
“It’s my last year organizing the appeal and I always get a bit nervy when we’ve got so many children.”
Ms Collins was speaking to the Times while out shopping for the ‘gaps’ in their list.
“At the moment, we’ve got nothing for teenage boys and not a lot for teenage girls. That always happens, and financial donations are great because it means we can go out and fill that gap,” she said.
The deadline for donating new gifts or money is on Saturday (December 10).
“We have had quite a bit dropped off to us in RVP [Royal Victoria Place] and The Amelia, and then we get donations from schools and scout groups – something like that is a huge boon,” she said.
Local shops have been actively promoting the appeal too, boosting the share of physical donations compared to donations through the appeal’s Amazon Wishlist.
“Generally, I’d say it was 60 per cent Amazon and 40 per cent local shops, but this year it’s the other way round. We have had a lot of support from shops in Tunbridge Wells,” Ms Collins added.
Drop-off points are at: St George’s childcare, Royal Victoria Place (Upper Mall, near Taste Wells), Barsleys (Paddock Wood), The Amelia (Tunbridge Wells), Maddisons Residential (The Pantiles) and Big Yellow Self Storage (Longfield Road).
The Toy Appeal’s bank details for financial donations and its Amazon Wishlist for other donations are on Facebook and at: TWMTA.co.uk