Last year’s appeal reached 4,000 children across East London. Image: Local Buyers Club

The team running the Winter Toy Appeal have called for a final push from the community as they attempt to reach every child referred to them by more than 40 local agencies.

The Appeal, run by discount card firm Local Buyers Club with support from Location Location estate agency, collects new toys for thousands of families experiencing extreme poverty during the festive season.

Last year, it ensured 4,000 children in Hackney, Islington, Tower Hamlets and Haringey had a present to open on Christmas Day.

Appeal Founder Jenna Fansa said: “The toys go to families fleeing domestic violence, living in cramped hostels often miles from family and friends, to refugees with no recourse to public funds, people relying on food banks and to parents who have lost their jobs and face a lengthy wait for Universal Credit.

“We urgently need more donations if we’re to reach every child referred to us.”

The Helen Bamber Foundation, which supports survivors of torture, trafficking and other human rights abuses, is among those distributing toys this year.

Zoe Dexter, the Foundation’s welfare and housing manager, said: “A huge thank you to the Local Buyers Club and their followers for providing presents to families we support during this time.”

She added: “It has been a rough year for many people, but for families living with so little, a present to give their children at Christmas has been amazing news for many parents and a very meaningful gift to receive from their communities.”

Among the other agencies handing out toys are Hackney Council, Haringey Council, Hackney Foodbank and schools and children’s centres in Hackney, Islington, Haringey and Tower Hamlets.

Covid-19 has led to a slightly different approach this year, with supporters asked to either buy toys online through a specially curated wish list, or to make their purchases at Stoke Newington Toys & Books or Hop of Hackney in Lower Clapton, which are both offering 20 per cent off for Toy Appeal gifts. These purchases can be left in the shop for staff to pass on to the Toy Appeal team.

The last day for in-store donations is 8 December, but the online wish list and the Appeal’s GoFundMe page will run until 18 December.

Toys bought through the wish list will be sent straight to the various agencies that distribute them, and any money donated to the GoFundMe is being used to buy toys for the Appeal from independent toy shops.

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