Sleigh bells ringing as the Toy Drive comes to town

Published Tuesday, 12th November 2019

Red and gold gift boxes of various sizes on red surface

With Christmas fast approaching, council elves are preparing for yet another season of goodwill as the annual Toy Drive returns to deliver more joy to local children.

The Toy Drive is an annual project, set up by the council in 2013, to gift Christmas presents to vulnerable children throughout the borough who may not have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas like others.

This year is the sixth year of the Toy Drive, and the team are hoping for a bumper year to provide as many presents as possible. The gifts are distributed to local children’s centres, food banks, refuges and children’s parties set up by local charities.

The Toy Drive has proven to be a huge success since its inaugural year and has grown in popularity, too. In 2014 we collected and distributed 300 gifts; in 2015 this number grew to 1100 gifts. In 2016 we were able to provide 840 gifts, and in 2017 we gave our biggest donation to date, distributing 1552 gifts to local children. Last year, a whopping 1350 presents were gifted to local children.

Joe Chesterton, director of festive cheer, said: “The Toy Drive is something we as a council are very passionate about. Every child deserves a present at Christmas and over the years we have been able to provide just that for local, vulnerable children.

“Any donation goes a long way to putting a smile on a vulnerable child’s face, and we urge all residents to get behind this project so that we can have a hugely successful year as we aim to provide more presents than ever before, so we need your support.”

One of the charities that are supported through the Toy Drive is Turning Tides: a group that works with vulnerable children throughout the borough. They gave some feedback for the generosity of last year’s Toy Drive.

Hayley Duff, young person’s development manager at Turning Tides, said: “We just wanted to say a massive thank you once again for all the lovely Christmas presents that were kindly donated to our youth clubs.

“Christmas can be an extremely challenging time for many families which can be due to financial constraints, the Toy Drive can help to ease that burden for some families.

“70 children attended our Christmas party, and every child went home with a big smile on their face after receiving their beautifully wrapped gifts.”

What can you donate?

  • new toys only, suitable for babies, boys and girls aged up to 17 (if any toys require batteries, please include these too)
  • vouchers for toys or days out
  • selection packs
  • pens, pencils and colouring books
  • toiletry sets

If you would like to donate to the Toy Drive, please deliver the gift to the Civic Centre reception, Southend Pier, Argosy Toys, Toys ‘N’ Tuck or The Forum by December 15.

If you have any questions, or would like to support the Toy Drive, please call Lorraine on 01702 534923 or email the Toy Drive Elf Team.

The Toy Drive is managed voluntarily each year by the council’s Benefits Team.