With Christmas day just six weeks away, children around the world are fit to burst with anticipation. Most are busy creating lengthy wishlists filled to the brim with all the toys their little heart's desire. They've spent months dreaming about the glitz and glamour of the festive season: tinsel adorning every viable surface, fairy lights twinkling on the tree, pyjamas imprinted with reindeer, snowmen and of course, Santa Clause.
For parents, the holiday season is just as magical. There's nothing better than seeing your child's eyes light up with joy as they unwrap a present they've been longing for - a present that you yourself have worked so hard to give. Purchasing gifts, spending hours decorating the house, slaving away in the kitchen to cook the most delicious meal; it's a difficult task, but parents will do anything to ensure their children are happy, and Christmas day is the pinnacle of happiness.
For most families, that is.
Children Living in Poverty
Whilst people like you and I relish in the beauty of the most wonderful time of the year, there are some families who simply dread its arrival, especially those living in poverty. In Peterborough alone, nearly 50% of children are living in poverty.*
When money is scarce, choices have to be made. It's a heartbreaking decision to cancel Christmas, but when it's a toss-up between heating your home or buying a toy for your child, presents just aren't an option.
Children Living in Refuge
It's not just those who are living below the breadline who greet the festive season with trepidation, though. Christmas is equally as tough for families living in refuge from domestic abuse.
The NSPCC reports that approximately 20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse, with over 39,000 infants under the age of one currently living in abusive households.
Many children will have witnessed their mothers endure verbal, violent and sexual attacks. Oftentimes, the children themselves are also victims of the abuse in all its forms. Many women flee with their children to live in specialist refuge centres. Refuges don't usually accept women and children from the local area because it isn't safe for them, so many have to travel across the country - leaving all of their possessions behind.
It's unimaginably hard for children to try and recover from witnessing or encountering domestic abuse - many never will - but it can be made harder when they're in an unfamiliar place without any of their belongings or toys to distract them temporarily from their emotions.
How You Can Help
The Salvation Army created their annual toy appeal to help children living in poverty and refuge to experience the magic of Christmas, and last year, we partnered with them to help more children than ever.
In 2018, we volunteered our office as a collection hub for people in and around Peterborough to drop off toys and gifts for children who otherwise would not receive any presents at Christmas.
Our entire team each donated gifts, and local businesses dropped off presents or sent in monetary donations for us to go out and purchase gifts with. We even had local families sending in presents through the post.
In total, we collected over 600 presents for children in the local area living in poverty or refuge. This year, we want to collect even more presents and help even more families in need, but we need your help.
If you want to donate to the appeal, you can do so by dropping off or sending in toys and gifts to the XL Displays office which is located at 36-39 Manasty Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough, PE2 6UP.
All donations must be received by 12th December ready for the Salvation Army to collect and distribute the gifts in time for Christmas.
Items suitable for donation include:
- 0-3 years: dolls, teddy bears, cot mobiles, baby clothes, bath toys, puzzles
- 3-5: dolls and action figures, cars, lorries, colouring sets, pencils, crayons, books, puzzles
- 5-9: educational games & toys, stationery (colouring sets, pencils, crayons, school sets), books, puzzles, word searches, crosswords
- 9-12: games and toys, stationery, books, t-shirts, hair accessories, gloves, scarves, hats
- 13-16: books, make-up and toiletries (please try to ensure non-allergic ingredients if possible), gloves, scarves, hats, t-shirts, hair accessories and gift vouchers
All gifts must be unopened and unused. The Salvation Army advises against donating electronic gifts such as DVD's and video games.
We are more than grateful for any gifts given and know that they will mean the absolute world to the children they are going to.
If you don’t have time to go to the shops and buy toys but still want to help, you can donate money via the XL Displays JustGiving page. We will then use the money to purchase toys on your behalf and send you a copy of the receipt afterwards to show you what your money has been spent on.
If you would like any further information on the appeal, please call 01733 511030 and select option five for marketing, or email [email protected].
Thank you for all your support.