Today we issue a unique invitation

TODAY the time has come to start planning our Christmas appeal, in association with the East of England Co-operative Society- and your favourite cause could be the recipient.

By Tracey Sparling

TODAY the time has come to start planning our Christmas appeal, in association with the East of England Co-operative Society- and your favourite cause could be the recipient. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING issues a very special invitation.

DOES your favourite cause need a cash boost, to take away the sharpness of their razor edge budget?

Can you recommend a group doing sterling work which makes dreams come true? Or a new community project which needs funds to launch? Or an individual who has an unusual project?

The time has come to decide who should be the recipient of our 2006 Christmas fundraising appeal and there are so many good causes out there across Suffolk, that the choice is always a challenge.

In the past ten years Evening Star Christmas appeals alone have raised nearly £500,000 for local causes - that's not counting other appeals like the Terri Calvesbert Appeal standing at £425,000 or annual Press Ball proceeds.

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Above all we want this year's Christmas appeal to reflect what you want, so for the first time ever we are throwing an open invitation.

You can nominate the cause you want to benefit.

We want to hear about a wide range of ideas.

Health causes have dominated the fundraising in recent years, so could this be the year to help a school or a community centre instead?

Or maybe you feel the NHS needs more support than ever, at this difficult time in the service's finances?

Could we fund a nurse for a year, or a role which the NHS would never do?

Other health concerns like East Anglia's Children's Hospice have had to redouble their fundraising efforts in the light of recent cuts, and are in desperate need of support.

At the opposite end of the age scale, there are many elderly people living in our community who will need extra help in the coming winter months. Would you like the appeal to sponsor a carer to look after our senior citizens?

Is there a special project in your area which needs money to launch, or survive?

Another idea is to put all the money raised, towards a new building, or facility, which a whole community can benefit from.

We would also like to hear about unusual causes which might not otherwise get a look in.

Once again the appeal will be supported by the East of England Co-operative Society.

Miriam Harrup, communications and community manager for the Co-op said: “We are delighted to be involved with choosing the recipient of this year's Evening Star Christmas appeal. I am looking forward to seeing which good causes are nominated, and a successful outcome to the appeal.”

Think local but think big, and decide what you would like the appeal to go towards.

Then just send your idea to us to be in the running- write and tell us:

1) Who you would like to benefit

2) How much money they need

3) Why the funds would be crucial

Please include your name, address and telephone number.

Send by November 11, to: Christmas Appeal, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email and mark your message 'Christmas Appeal'.

1996: Mission Possible, a £20,000 appeal to buy Suffolk children mobility aids, through the charity Disability Care Enterprise.

1997: A Cry for Children raised £31,145 for the NSPCC's support of child abuse victims.

1998: Beacon of Hope to raise £20,000 to add to Beacon Hill School's fundraising for 38 computer work stations.

1999: Hospice 2000 was our Millennium appeal which raised a staggering £85,000 to get the new Children's Hospice in Ipswich fully open.

2000: Suffolk's Superheroes, a £25,000 appeal to buy lifesaving equipment for Suffolk Accident Rescue Service.

2001: Vicky Hall Memorial Hall appeal was running and at Christmas we set out to break the £100,000 landmark, to build a hall in memory of the popular Trimley teenager who was murdered.

2002: Save a Life, to raise £20,000 for Suffolk Accident Rescue Service which sends doctors to emergencies.

2003: Raise the Roof to help the Cancer Campaign in Suffolk raise the final £100,000 for a new cancer centre at Ipswich Hospital.

2004: Helping the Children, a £18,000 appeal to create a children's area in minor injuries unit at Felixstowe General Hospital. Work is set to start this autumn.

2005: Let Them Play raised £30,000 in just 50 days to resurface the outdoor play area at Ipswich Hospital's children wards.

2006: ?

Suffolk Accident Rescue Service benefited from being our Christmas appeals in 2000 and 2002. Spokesman Dr Paul Silverston said: “The money that Evening Star readers raised was used to buy a number of items that we use on a daily basis today, caring for the seriously ill and injured on Suffolk's roads.

“The system that links our satellite navigation units to the ambulance service's vehicle tracking system, has proved itself of value time and time again. It enables us to get to accidents quickly and safely.

“The new airway equipment and special patient monitors have been invaluable, so we are enormously grateful to you and the people of Suffolk for your ongoing support of SARS.”

Carolyne Morey is from Ipswich-based charity Disability Care Enterprise, which is still helping Suffolk children like it did in 1996 when a Star Christmas appeal boosted their effort.

She said: “DCE was able to change the lives of so many through your Mission Possible Appeal.

“It was the chance for children with disabilities to get mobile and be independent - many for the first time in their lives. That kind of help must have a long term effect on these children, not only to be independent but to give them quality to their lives, confidence and fun!

“So many people in our community made this happen - we still thank them all.”

Sue Meader from EACH said: “We are grateful to the newspaper and it's readers for their continued support. This has enabled us to provide specialist care to life limited children and their families in the Ipswich area and throughout Suffolk. However, we still need to find £11,000 each and every day to continue offering care without charge to our very special children, and receive only 10 per cent of this amount from Government funding. We are therefore very reliant on ongoing support from the local Community!