With Christmas fast approaching (yes, really), in a year none of us could have anticipated, the council’s annual Toy Drive is set to launch this month to provide some Christmas joy for vulnerable children across Southend.
The Toy Drive, now in its seventh year, is an annual project set up by the Council to gift Christmas presents to vulnerable children who may not have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas like most, with the gifts being distributed to local children’s centres, food banks, refuges and children’s parties set up by local charities.
Each year the council’s elves get prepared at the Civic Grotto to try and break previous records for the number of gifts donated. However, they are fully aware that following the unprecedented challenges the country has faced this year, the focus is now for residents and businesses to support the Toy Drive in any way they can.
The Toy Drive has proven to be a huge success since its inaugural year and has grown in popularity. Over the past seven years, 7,034 gifts have been donated to vulnerable children in Southend.
Gifts can be donated from Monday 12 October up until Friday 18 December. However, we are unable to accept individual donations at the Civic Centre this year, but you can purchase a gift from any of the following local shops, purchase the gift at the shop, leave it with them in store and we will arrange the rest.
- Argosy Toys – 553 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 9LJ
- Toys n Tuck – 1 Queens Road, Southend-on-Sea, and Essex, SS1 1LT
If you prefer online shopping or are unable to get to the shops, check out Argosy Toys website. At the point of check out please choose the option of Toy Drive as your delivery option. This will allow your purchase to be sent direct to us without leaving your home or workplace.
The gifts will be left for 72 hours before being sanitised and expertly wrapped by the council’s elves.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “With Christmas just around the corner, it is important to remember that there are many children who won’t have a present to open come 25 December. The Toy Drive is a truly wonderful project and it makes a huge difference to those who need it most.
“Whilst we continue with our recovery from Covid-19, this is a fantastic opportunity to support a good cause whilst also supporting local businesses with the council’s ‘Shop Local, Shop Southend-on-Sea Campaign’.
“I completely understand that this year is like no other, and whilst in previous years we push to break the record for the number of gifts donated, we know that this year it would show a lack of compassion to ask for more and more donations. Having said that, it would be brilliant if we could provide as many gifts as possible, so I ask anyone that is able to donate to please support this fantastic project.
One of the charities that are supported through the Toy Drive is Southend YMCA. They gave some feedback for the generosity of last year’s Toy Drive:
“We just wanted to say again, thank you to all the team involved in both collecting and delivering the Christmas gifts to our residents and many, many other children in the local area. They were greatly received by our young people and caused some real excitement. In many cases these, and a gift from the YMCA, were the only presents they received, so I’m sure you will understand how appreciated this was.
“Again, thank you for giving your time, in what is a very busy department and please pass on our thanks to all those kind people who donated and were so generous.”
If you are a company, charity or school and wish to donate more than one gift that you need collecting or wish to drop off, please contact us on the details below in order for us to run through the new procedure to ensure you and our staff are kept safe and social distance measures are maintained at all times.
If you have any questions, please call Lorraine on 01702 215481 or by email.
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