Gazette’s festive appeal results in sackfuls of gifts for the young ones

This Is Wiltshire: Capt Lisa Goble and Rose Hewer sorting through the toys                                   (DV958) By diane vose Capt Lisa Goble and Rose Hewer sorting through the toys (DV958) By diane vose

Volunteers at the Salvation Army in Chippenham are sorting through piles of toys for needy children as part of the Gazette’s festive toy appeal, which ends today.

These will distributed in time for parents to wrap them and give them out on Christmas Day.

They will go to children’s centres across the county and families identified by social services, as well as other agencies, including GreenSquare and the women’s refuge centre.

Salvation Army volunteer Ruth Womack is helping to sort toys for the appeal for the first time after moving to Chippenham and said looking through them all would take a while.

She said: “They asked for volunteers and I volunteered. I like helping the Salvation Army because they have helped me in the past as a listening ear and I go to the church.

“You get it sorted into ages and then we have the lists of the families. You put them into a bag and give them to social services and the children’s centres and they give them out.

“I will do my own wrapping at the weekend. I might be tired afterwards but there are so many helpers, we all muck in together quite well here.”

There have been more families in need of toys than ever, and Salvation Army captain Lisa Goble expects to receive requests for more than 200 children and teenagers in the local area.

The change in the benefits system, including the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’, has had a big impact on families struggling to find work or working for minimum pay.

Captain Goble said: “We’re pleased with what has come in, especially when many people who donated are probably struggling themselves, but I think there is more need this year than there has been in previous years.

“I know last year it was up to Christmas Eve that I was still getting calls for toys. You think that’s it, but you usually end up running out and buying things because everything has gone at that point.

“But if someone is phoning up on Christmas Eve they are usually pretty desperate. Usually after Christmas we get some thank you letters, which is very nice for the volunteers so they feel that the hard work has paid off.”

“Sometimes they are from the agencies and sometimes they are from the families themselves. We just hope the children like what we have selected for them and all wake on Christmas Day excited.”

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