COULD YOU TELL YOUR CHILD THEY WON’T BE GETTING ANY PRESENTS THIS CHRISTMAS?
Reading Family Aid’s Toys & Teens appeal is back for another year, sponsored by The Chronicle. This year the appeal is accepting new and nearly new toys at 33 donation points across Reading and the surrounding areas. These toys and gifts will be distributed to disadvantaged children in Reading and the surrounding area, ready to be opened on Christmas day.
Imagine you had to tell your children that they won’t be getting a toy from Santa this year. This will be the incredibly sad situation that many families find themselves in this Christmas without your help. More families than ever are being plunged into poverty with the cost-of-living crisis having far-reaching consequences.
As we all know times are tougher than in previous years and none more so for those already struggling to make ends meet. To put things into context, last year Reading Family Aid gave Christmas presents to a record number of 3,001 disadvantaged children. Although this might sound positive it was a sad reminder that the reason this number is higher than in the previous year of 2,558 is that more and more families are living in poverty. Sadly this number is expected to rise again this year.
If proof were needed then we only have to find evidence for just how many families are living in poverty. The number of children aged between 0-15 years now living in low-income families in Reading, is 10,568*. That means over 1 in 4 children are living in poverty in Reading. In a typical school class of 30 children, on average 7 of them will be living in poverty.
This becomes particularly apparent at Christmas time when all they wish for are presents from Santa. Reading Family Aid volunteer Charlie McLean said "I have two young boys and I can't imagine their faces if I told them Father Christmas hadn't come this year. As a parent it's so incredibly sad to think of children that won't receive even a single present on Christmas day. For them to wonder what they did wrong, and why they don't deserve a visit from Santa. That's why I help with, and donate to, the Toys and Teens Appeal every year. In the hope that I can bring even a small amount of happiness to their lives this Christmas".
One of the teachers of school pupils supported by last year's appeal said "I just wanted to say a massive massive thank you for the children's gifts. Two of the boys told me that they were both really happy at home because mum got gifts for them. (your gifts) ‘Child 1’ said "I got a book, and a marble game"; Child 2 said "I got a magic book, a brain puzzle game and a football". They were both delighted and said it was "one of the best days ever". As a result of the conversation we realised the children actually have no toys at all at home. Thank you for your help".
The Toys and Teens Appeal 2023 will be collecting donated new and nearly new toys from donation drop off points, as well as using funds from the Go Fund Me online to buy gifts for children to open on Christmas day.
To support the campaign you can donate a gift to the drop off points - more details on what can be donated here.
If you cannot donate a gift the campaign also has an online GoFundMe page to help buy new presents for age groups that receive less donations each year.
* . (www.gov.uk/government/collections/children-in-low-income-families-local-area-statistics)
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