Next week sees the launch of the 2016 Reading Family Aid Toys & Teens Appeal. This annual appeal brings a little hope and happiness to local families living in desperate need, at a time of year when many feel lost and forgotten about.
The charity’s Toys & Teens Appeal collects and redistributes new or as new toys at Christmas to disadvantaged families who have been nominated by social workers and support organisations across the Reading area. All toys are generously donated by individuals, businesses, schools, churches etc. and dropped at local donation points; from Theale to Twyford and from Winnersh & Emmer Green to Shinfield.
The donation points will open on Thursday 20th October and remain open until Sunday 4th December, after which scores of volunteers will sort, pack & deliver over 10,000 donated items to their grateful recipients. None of this would be possible without the support of local volunteers and businesses such as Big Yellow who provide free storage facilities and Rabbits who provide vans to deliver all of the gifts.
In 2015, Reading Family Aid’s Toys & Teens Appeal delivered gifts to 1,500 disadvantaged children from over 600 families, and with the help of the local community it aims to extend its reach even further this year.
More information on how you can support Reading Family Aid’s Toys & Teens appeal, including where to donate, can be found on our website or follow us on twitter @RdgFamilyAid or Facebook.
If you would like to get involved with volunteering, please contact us at info@ReadingFamilyAid.org
August 6th, the day of Earley Green Fair unusually dawned with clear blue sky and sun forecast for the whole day. Hurrah!
We were unloading the cars by 8.15 and an hour later we were all set to go with a good selection of toys, children's and adult books, adult jigsaws, bric-a-brac, children's clothes and a fantastic Tombola.
Our supporter, Seve Mardell, set up his display of delicious jams, marmalade and chutneys.
Business started early with brisk trade particularly on the toys, jigsaws, jams and books. Many people had a go on the Tombola and went away with brilliant prizes, although not always with what they had their eye on - although that often brought them back for another try! The sun shone, it got warmer and warmer, and the ice cream van did brisk trade with us taking it turns to seek a rest in the shade.
A great day with over £800 being raised with the money going towards this year's Toys and Teens. Huge thanks to everyone that visited us!
This year has been one of our most successful appeals ever. Thanks to everyone who donated and contributed their time! With your help we were able to deliver gifts to 1,500 children in the Reading area.
Here's a review of how everything came together during the week of collecting, sorting and distributing the toys.
It all starts on Sunday afternoon when we take over St Luke's church hall and set up all the tables. It's important everything is ready for when the toys start arriving on Monday morning.
On Monday morning the toys start arriving in the vans and the tables fill up quickly. That's not surprising given that we had 31 public donation points and 19 private collections this year, generating a record 13 van loads of donations!
Items are sorted as they arrive and are then taken to the designated tables so it's easier to select appropriate toys for each child later.
Lorraine is filling Christmas stockings that were made for the appeal by Sallie's quilting club.
This is one of our busiest days as donations continue to arrive at the hall and the tables are overflowing. It's time for our volunteers to collect a bag from the nerve centre in the office. Each bag is pre-labelled with some information about the child (or children) who will receive the gifts, and volunteers go round the tables choosing gifts that best match the information we have about each child.
One hundred and seventeen volunteers helped out in the hall this year, and filled 728 bags between them. Sarah Hacker, the Mayor of Reading, even paid us a visit and packed a bag of toys for a 5 year old girl.
Mark Hepplethwaite and his colleague from the Masons arrived this morning with a another large delivery of toys - where to put them all?! The record number of donations this year kept everyone busier than ever, but meant that we could be generous with the gifts.
As the week draws to a close we are focussed on finishing packing all the labelled bags and distributing them to the charities and social workers who will wrap and deliver them to the families in time for Christmas.
It's finally time to start packing up the hall, and the final bags are distributed in the vans. This year we had a team of 14 van drivers who drove a total of 600 miles to collect the donations and deliver the packed bags.
And so the appeal has finished for another year. We have received so many lovely messages from the organisations who received the gifts. Here are just a few of them:
“I would like to say a huge thank you to Reading Family Aid for all the wonderful gifts that were donated to our families, they have been gratefully received. It really is heartwarming to see how generous people have been.” – Community Nursing Secretary, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
"I just want to say a big thank you to you and the team for all the wonderful toys we received to bless our CAP families this Christmas. They have now all been wrapped and delivered and the excitement and appreciation that was evident when we delivered them was a delight to behold. We know there will be some very happy children on Christmas Day." – Liz, CAP UK
Thank you everyone! Your hard work and generosity have made a real difference to the lives of many children in Reading.
Do you have any unwanted toys?
Reading Family Aid has teamed up with NCS and will be holding a ‘toy drive’ on the 21st November from 12-3:30pm. The event, hosted by a team of young people, will take place in the Elevate Hub, home to Reading Voluntary Action, on the 3rd Floor of Reading Central Library.
All toys collected will find good homes with children across Reading whose families do not have the means to buy them this year. The event will consist not only of a toy collection but also an afternoon of festive fun games and activities for the whole family to enjoy. There will be a cake sale and a raffle to raise money for Reading Family Aid, who are working tirelessly to put a smile on every child’s face all year round.
Throughout the afternoon, there will be arts and crafts, prize giveaways and even a magic show! Refreshments and festive treats will also be on sale.
The 10 young people, busily preparing for the weekend ahead, said “An old toy might be rubbish to you, but can be a blessing for [another] child. We sincerely ask that you please bring along a toy this Saturday!”
Assistant Programme Manager and current Programme Leader, Amy Moss said “This group of young people have worked so hard to create an event for Reading Family Aid. They have been inspired by talking to Sallie Wall, their chairperson, and finding out about the amazing work that the charity do and have really thrown themselves in to creating a fantastic community event. I chose Reading Family Aid to work with this Autumn as I thought it enabled our young people to develop fantastic skills in event organisation, whilst helping a cause right at the heart of the Reading Community. NCS is all about young people working with people that are different to themselves and getting involved in the community they live in and making a positive difference. The young people have set a target of collecting 50 toys for Reading Family Aid, and I wish them all the success this weekend! They certainly deserve it!”
Please come and join the fun and bring any unwanted toys.
Read our latest newsletter, packed with stories of how we have supported children in recent months and for more information on how you can help us with our Christmas Toys & Teens Appeal.
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