Two West Ham United Women's players helped kick off the 45th annual Christmas Toy Appeal in Newham this week. 

Ambition, Aspire, Achieve (AAA) has once again partnered with the Recorder on the Kevin Jenkins OBE Newham Christmas Toy Appeal for 2022.

The campaign helps to provide local children and families with items on Christmas Day who would otherwise likely go without.

FA Women’s Super League stars Viviane Asseyi and Grace Fisk came to AAA’s Terence Brown Arc in the Park in Canning Town to launch the appeal this year.  

They met staff and the children who are part of AAA’s group of Santa’s helpers, who help with the intiative doing jobs such as wrapping presents. 

Defender Grace, 24, said: “This is my local community and so to be able to come along here to show my support for such a worthwhile cause is something really important to me.” 

Viviane, a 28-year-old striker, added: “The last few years has been tough for everyone but every child deserves a new toy at Christmas and I hope us being here today can encourage the local community to donate what they can.” 

Last year, the initiative helped almost 3,000 children and their families. 

The charity said referrals already indicate this year’s campaign will be even more necessary amid the cost-of-living crisis. 

AAA chief executive Jonny Boux said: “It will be a major challenge. The continuing effects of the pandemic and the costs being faced by families is creating even greater hardship for many locals. 

“The children and families most in need have been particularly hit, pushed deeper into poverty through no fault of their own. 

“The lead up to Christmas 2022 and beyond is expected to be very difficult for families struggling to make ends meet. 

“For many, it’s a choice between eat or heat, and Christmas gets pushed out. 

“Every year we reach out to partners both in the corporate world and wider community to ask for support. We encourage all to be involved and no level of support is too small.” 

The appeal, which has been running for nearly half a century, was renamed last year in tribute to the late Kevin Jenkins, who founded the campaign and the charity.

Paula Blake, toy appeal organiser, said: “Christmas can be a time of stress and isolation as many of our children are still living in poverty. 

“But the appeal looks to strengthen communities and raise aspirations, making Christmas special and futures brighter. 

“We are now seeing the long-term effects on people’s health of the last few years – especially their mental health.” 

She added: “It will be a difficult choice for people trying to find ways of coping with the cost-of-living crisis. 

“But we hope those who have supported us for so many years can come up trumps again and support us. 

“There are both children – and senior citizens – among those out there already helping us. All donations small and big will make a difference in helping us provide gifts to those who need it most. 

“We want to provide Christmas packages of new gifts appropriate to each child’s age, abilities, needs and if, possible, their most wished for gift, to open on Christmas Day.” 

The West Ham Women's players came to launch the appeal as part of West Ham United’s Players’ Project, an initiative where men’s, women’s and academy players support causes across the local community. 

West Ham United and the West Ham Foundation have backed AAA’s appeal in previous years, and the charity is one of its selected partners. 

Anyone who would like to get involved can drop off new toys at the Terence Brown Arc in the Park hub in Bethell Avenue, Canning Town, from 9am until 5pm on Mondays to Fridays and between 10am and 2pm on Saturdays. 

Alternatively, buy a gift on AAA's Amazon wish list here, which has been curated to be suitable for those recieving donations. 

People can also donate money on a JustGiving page here