Merry Christmas for disadvanged kids

DISADVANTAGED children in Ipswich can today look forward to experiencing the magic of Christmas – and know that someone cares.Not all kids will be surrounded by a loving family, warm laughter and a mountain of presents on December 25.

DISADVANTAGED children in Ipswich can today look forward to experiencing the magic of Christmas – and know that someone cares.

Not all kids will be surrounded by a loving family, warm laughter and a mountain of presents on December 25.

For those less fortunate, the festive period could be cold and bleak – but for a generous appeal that is sweeping happiness into kids' lives.

The national Pass the Parcel Christmas Toy Appeal – run by The Salvation Army, Superdrug and ITV1's This Morning programme – has collected toys bought by the public and is distributing them to children up to 16 years old who may not have anything to unwrap on Christmas morning.

In Ipswich, hundreds of gifts were gathered at the Salvation Army's Priory in Queen's Way on Wednesday, for a presentation to mark the end of the appeal, which ran between November 15 and December 13.

Among the gifts was a beautiful limited edition teddy bear donated by Harrods, which was given to three-year-old Erron Collins and hugged by her joyfully for the rest of the day.

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As the daughter of a struggling single father, Michael Collins, she was thought of when the teddy bear became available. Erron's five-year-old brother, Eamon, was also given some gifts.

Mr Collins said: "I've been taking the kids over to the Salvation Army for the last few months as they really enjoy having a bit of a sing-song.

"I'm so thankful to them for these presents, the kids are over the moon.

"The teddy bear's absolutely smashing - it's almost too nice to play with really! Eamon will really enjoy the board games he got as well."

Lieutenant Margaret Bale, centre manager at the Priory, said: "To see the little girl going off hugging the bear was great. The family has been through a difficult time and they just sprung to mind when we realised Harrods was giving the bear to Ipswich."

It is now up to the Salvation Army to play the role of Santa and send the rest of the presents to agencies that help struggling families and children.

The appeal has gone from strength to strength since it was launched, attracting millions of pounds worth of toys over the last six years – and this year is looking to be the best yet.

Mrs Bale said: "We have been amazed at all the gifts that we received and we are grateful to Superdrug for being collection points.

"We may not be able to put everything right for them (the children), but we can show we care and that can make a difference."

So, who will benefit?

"It could be a family that is going to struggle financially to provide presents," said Mrs Bale. "They could be going through a difficult time. I have just been asked to find some toys for a family where on the parents is in prison."

Do you have an uplighting Christmas story? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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