The Salvation Army and Newcastle Permanent are calling on people in the New England North West to share the Christmas spirit with someone in need by donating a gift to the Salvos annual Christmas Toy Drive Appeal.
Salvation Army officer Tracy Iles said with job and income losses due to COVID-19 she expects there will be more children who, without the help of the Salvos, won't have a present to open this year.
"A surprise gift under the Christmas tree will bring a smile to a young person as well as to a parent or carer who is unable to afford gifts this year," auxiliary lieutenant Iles said.
"Last year the Salvos gave 26,000 gifts and toys to families in need of a hand - and we are ambitiously looking to help more families this year," she said.
"If you are able, please add a Salvos toy drive gift to your Christmas shopping list and drop it in to a Newcastle Permanent branch."
Last Christmas, Sara Goodridge was facing the prospect of not having a present for her six year old son Jace. With mounting bills, the expense of having to move house, and her son's birthday just prior, she had nothing left for Christmas.
She said she felt overwhelmingly relieved when the Salvos arrived with a food card, as well as a toy toolkit and book for Jace.
"If it wasn't for the Salvos I wouldn't have had a Christmas with my son," Ms Goodridge said.
"To see Jace's eyes light up and his big smile as he opened his presents made for a special Christmas," she said.
Newcastle Permanent CEO Bernadette Inglis was the first to donate to this year's drive, putting her gift under the tree (this afternoon November 22) at Newcastle Permanent's head office.
Ms Inglis said Newcastle Permanent had been supporting the toy drive for 33 years because Christmas should be about giving, joy and hope.
"As a parent, I know the joy of your child receiving a gift on Christmas morning. In our many years of partnership with the Salvation Army, we've been humbled to help thousands of local families experience that joy, with presents under trees that otherwise may have been bare," Ms Inglis said.
"We're encouraging our people to donate and they'll also be volunteering to help the Salvos to sort and distribute the gifts," she said.
Gifts should be new and unwrapped. Gift ideas include toys, clothing, books, sporting equipment, games, beauty products, fashion accessories and gift vouchers.
Donations can be made at any Newcastle Permanent branch until Monday 20 December 2021. It has a branch in Armidale and in Tamworth.
The Salvos have been spreading Christmas kindness for 140 years.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.