Thousands of less-fortunate children on the Isle of Wight will be smiling this Christmas – thanks to kind-hearted Islanders.
More than 3,000 toys – with a value in excess of £30,000 – have been donated to the Isle of Wight Radio Christmas Toy Appeal.
Over three weeks, the Island came together to support the campaign to brighten up Christmas for young carers, children in hospital over the Christmas period, children in care, sick youngsters, bereaved children or those challenged by poverty and housing problems..
The staggering amount is being distributed to individuals, groups and organisations across the Island to make Christmas special for underprivileged youngsters. All gifts donated stay on the Isle of Wight.
The appeal was supported by hundreds of individuals, schools, organisations and businesses across the Island, whether it was donating money, holding a fundraiser, donating a toy or helping to wrap the presents.
Collection boxes at official drop off points across the Island were emptied and brought to Isle of Wight Radio in Newport for two days of wrapping on Thursday (13) and Friday (14) last week.
This year, for the first time in seven years of the appeal, Isle of Wight Radio led the campaign.
Deborah Rooke, who founded the toy appeal with her husband, Daniel said: “The Toy Appeal has become a tradition on the Island and is so important – this year more than ever.
“Even though this year we had the highest number of requests and the appeal was a week shorter, the Island came together in a way which is truly inspiring. For us, that is what the toy appeal is about – so much more than a toy. A symbol of unity and a testament to what a unique and special place the Isle of Wight is.
“We must say a huge thank you to Isle of Wight Radio for everything they have done for the appeal.”
Isle of Wight Radio Managing Director, Claire Willis, said: “I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported the appeal. Every single donation will make a difference to a less-fortunate Island child. It just shows how powerful the Island community can be.
“We had people coming in with money they had raised in pub quizzes, holding cake sales, Christmas jumper days and events in schools. It’s been quite overwhelming to see how many people wanted to get involved.”
Many volunteers from a number of Island companies helped wrap and sort through more than 3,100 toys – including Branch Partner at Pittis in Ryde, Ross Taylor, who spent five hours wrapping with his colleague Jo Lacey. He said: “We were proud to be involved with such an important campaign. As soon as we mentioned the toy appeal to our staff, they all wanted to get involved.”
Andy John from Front Row Groundworks gave up two work days to help wrap and organise presents said: “It was a privilege to help support such an amazing appeal. With everything else happening in the UK at the moment, the toy appeal was the only thing being talked about.
“Every time I looked up, more and more toys were being dropped off. It was incredible.”