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Toy Appeal reaches 5,000 children in poverty

More than 5,000 children in poverty in North and East London will have a special gift to open this Christmas thanks to the kindness of strangers.

Despite the cost-of-living crisis and inflation driving up the cost of toys, the Winter Toy Appeal, had a fantastic response, with hundreds of people donating.

Organised by the Local Buyers Club in partnership with Location Location estate agency and the Hackney Children and Baby Bank, the appeal is in its ninth year and distributes new toys to children experiencing extreme hardship.

They’re given out by social workers, councils, children’s centres, schools, food banks and more. This year the appeal reached children in Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Islington and Barnet.

Appeal founder Jenna Fansa, of the Local Buyers Club, said: “The toy appeal wouldn’t be possible without people’s incredible kindness. This year was particularly tough – so many people are feeling the pinch and we are incredibly grateful that they still donated so generously.

“For many of the children we reach, this is the only toy they’ll receive at Christmas. Lots of them don’t have any toys at home. Many families are unable to afford the basics like food and heating and I hope that through the Winter Toy Appeal they feel the love of their community.”

Hundreds of toys were donated under the Christmas trees at Better leisure centres and staff at St Ann’s Hospital in Haringey held a collection and went shopping for gifts. The Department for International Trade and UK Export Finance were also big supporters this year alongside Alexander McQueen, Clarasys, Rolex, Unpitchd and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

A huge donation from the LEGO Group of 1,000 sets was a big boost early on.

Jenna added: “This year’s appeal has been an absolute joy to work on – with amazing support shopping, storing and distributing toys from the team at Location Location and from the Hackney Children and Baby Bank.

This year’s Winter Toy Appeal generated more than £30,000 of trade for London’s independent shops; including Stoke Newington Toys and Books, Soup Dragon in Crouch End, The Toybox in Victoria Park, Know and Love in Stoke Newington and Dek’s in Enfield.

Money was also raised through the sale of a charity Christmas card, designed by local artist StokeySketcher.

More than 900 toys were given to Haringey Council Social Services, more than 800 went to Hackney Council's Temporary Accommodation Team, 1,000 toys were distributed via Tower Hamlet's Tackling Poverty Team, 575 were distributed by Hackney Foodbank, over 600 by Hackney Children and Baby Bank. Other recipients included children's centres, schools and food banks in Islington, Hackney and Haringey.

Since its launch nine years ago, the Winter Toy Appeal has provided more than 34,000 main Christmas presents for children in extreme poverty.

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