The true spirit of Christmas: The Community Links and Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal

We’ve done it! Against all the odds in the toughest year ever, the people of Newham proved the true spirit of Christmas lives on.

We’ve done it! Against all the odds in the toughest year ever, the people of Newham proved the true spirit of Christmas lives on.

As we went to press we had almost hit the huge target of 15,000 toys for the Community Links and Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal.

There have been some truly amazing efforts, and we have promised donations coming that will see us meet our target. The appeal collected an incredible 5,000 toys in its last few days. The first of the toys were handed out at parties staged by Community Links at the weekend, with youngsters being entertained by a variety of volunteers.

Now the rest are being delivered by our Santa squads, the teams of Links volunteers who will wrap the gifts and deliver them today and tomorrow. The joy you gave was remarkable, and we had help from all quarters...including the Royal Family! We paid a special visit to Buckingham Palace on Monday night to collect gifts donated by members of the royal household, and they took us nearer to the massive target.


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There were single donations of pocket money and pensions by supporters young and old that really made a difference.

There were large donations like the one from our friends at Glyn Hopkin Ltd, of �4,125, which gave all round support to the appeal, and helped with the costs of parties, pantomime trips, and presents.

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You can still give, and details of where to go are inside. But this is a truly remarkable achievement and proves an incredible community spirit exisits in our borough.

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The gifts came rolling in to our Christmas Toy Appeal campaign in the last seven days.

And we want to say a big thank you to all those who have given to help us edge towards our target of 15,000 toys.

The toys came from all quarters of our borough and all parts of East London and Essex as you can see from the stories on this page.

Heartfelt

We are still continuing to receive referrals every day, each one having a truly heartfelt story of real genuine need.

And the marvellous team at Community Links will be working right up to Christmas Eve to do their best to ensure no child in need goes without.

Example donations over the last couple of days included the senior citizens who brought in her penny and two pence coins she had collected all year for the appeal

We are also indebted to the disabled lady who donated the 30 plus toys that she had knitted all year to make.

Over 500 gifts also came in from Deutsche Bank employees.Each and every donation took our a step closer to ensuring that no child goes without in Newham at Christmas.

Community Links and the Recorder have been partners in this appeal for 34 years and this really has been our toughest challenge.

But the goodwill in Newham is simply amazing.

We would also like to thank Paul Clements from Romford and Rokeby School, Stratford, pupils and staff who raised �614.45 through a sponsored non-uniform day. Community Cohesion officer Sarah Henderson said pupils and staff were happy to help out.

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The simply marvellous devotion that some families have to our appeal is quite humbling.

Vanessa Brennan and her mother Sue Brazil and nan Dorthy Higgs have been giving to the campaign for over 20 years. They maintained that tradition as they handed over toys and cash they have been collecting throughout 2011.

And Freemantle Media gave us a major bost when boss Gary Matthews popped in our toy warehouse to give over 200 items of clothing and gifts that were X Factor and Pop Idol related.

Thank you so much for your kindness.

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Newham Chamber of Commerce have been one of our longest serving supporters as the campaign has grown over the years.

And they came to the aid of the party again on Friday when they donated a bumper batch of gifts to the appeal.

Lee Corcoran from Communuty Links was at a Chamber breakfast meeting at the West Ham United hotel where toys and a collection of over �70 were presented.

Links revealed that they also added a donation of crates of apples from their friends at Spitalfield market to give the campaign a healthy boost!

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The appeal got a timely boost from traders at Queens Market in Green Street, Upton Park, on Thursday lunchtime.

The traders did their bit for the appeal by staging a collection.

And market manager Roy Wayne handed over more than �350 to Community Links stalwart Karl Fone.

Said Karl: “They were in good spirits and it was very generous of them and really helped us push towards our toys total.”

Mr Wayne said: “We all know how important the appeal was and we are happy to help.”

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Antonio Monteiro flew all the way from the USA to help boost our appeal.

He was the successful bidder in the online auction we ran to give people the chance to get a signed West Ham shirt from their famous 1980 FA Cup Final win against Arsenal.

Antonio lives in America but is still a die-hard Hammers fan. He topped the bidding and paid �350 for the shirt which he gave to Community Links at their Canning Town base on Thursday. That cash was immediately turned into toys for the campaign.

He plans to now have it framed..and even gave us a bottle of wine to raffle for our appeal. “I was happy to help and get a bit of history as well,” he said.

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Community Links staged a Christmas lunch to raise funds for the appeal and buy new toys.

The meal of soup, turkey main course, ham, roast spuds and sprouts and carrors, parsnips, followed by mince piesor custard and trifle and glasswas served up a Links base in Barking Road, Canning Town, on Thursday.

n Community Links social enterprise unit also sold Christmas Trees to local businesses for their offices.

It was the first time that Links has become tree fellas and the tress they sold were from ethnical and sustainable sources and will hold their needles throughout the festive period, having just been cut a few days before delivery.

If you want to find out more about Links work in the community all year round and would like to help by donations or by volunteering please call (020) 7473 2270 for details.

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