The cost-of-living crisis along with the arrival of hundreds of families from Ukraine, mean there are more children at risk of going without this Christmas, the organiser of the town’s Toy Appeal has said.
The Mayor’s Toy Appeal, which has been running in Tunbridge Wells since 1987, could be set for its busiest year yet, as rising costs and an influx of people fleeing the Russian invasion could lead to the appeal having to find gifts for a record number of children this year.
The annual appeal aims to ensure children in the borough that may have to otherwise go without due to financial hardship in the family receive Christmas presents.
Toys come by way of donations, either in cash or new toys bought by generous residents.
Last year, the Toy Appeal ensured 550 Tunbridge Wells children that may have gone without a gift from Santa received something to open on Christmas day.
Each child was given a main present, ranging from Lego sets and soft toys to radio-controlled cars and Barbie dolls, along with a number of stocking fillers.
Karen Collins, who has been running the appeal for the Mayor – which this year is Cllr Godfrey Bland – for the last seven years, told the Times: “This year could see more children at risk of going without.
“We have the Ukrainian families that have come over and for many, Christmas may be the last thing on their mind at the moment.
“And with the cost-of-living crisis seeing bills rise, I suspect we will have a lot more children needing us this year.”
However, with just three months to go until the appeal is set to begin on November 19, the Toy Appeal is yet to find a premises this year.
“Unless we find somewhere, we won’t be able to run the appeal,” warned Karen. “I have asked Royal Victoria Place if they can let us have some temporary space, which would be ideal, but a warehouse or unused office would work too.
“We don’t need a huge room, and a number of smaller premises would work, but they have to be a reasonable enough size to give us enough room to sort the toys.”
Anybody who can help the Mayor’s Toy Appeal, which runs from November 19 to December 10, has been asked to contact Karen Collins at email@example.com
Toy Appeal needs you!
Organiser of the Mayor’s Toy Appeal, Karen Collins, is to step down after this year’s appeal, after running the charity drive since 2015.
She said she hopes another volunteer who has time during November to December would take over the role, but she has ‘not yet been inundated with offers’.
“I hope somebody steps up to take over, because I wouldn’t want to see the appeal stop,” Karen said, adding that anybody interested should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.