Christmas is such a magical time. The excitement of Santa visiting; presents under the tree; lights and decorations; spending time with your family and friends; all that amazing food.
It’s so easy when you are caught up in the festive season to forget that Christmas is not like that for everyone.
Some children – including many here in South Wales – will be facing Christmas in hospital with a terminal illness. Others will spend it in a hostel or shelter. Some have challenging family circumstances – perhaps their parents have alcohol or drug dependencies, or perhaps they live in severe poverty. Other children care for an adult with a physical disability or mental illness.
St David’s Shopping Centre and Capital FM South Wales are asking the people of Cardiff and beyond to help ensure all these children have a gift to open this Christmas with their Toy Appeal.
From 10th November until 22nd December, you can donate presents for children aged 0 to 16 at the donation station in the shopping centre. The presents will then be distributed to children across South Wales via 12 local charities.
Watch this video explaining more about the St David’s and Capital FM’s Toy Appeal
I headed into town yesterday with Toddler, my 2½-year-old youngest child, so that we could donate some gifts to the appeal. Toddler loves Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so he helped choose one of those to donate, along with Minnie Mouse and Spider-Man activity tins, filled with colouring pens and colouring books.
Kally Davies, a presenter on Capital FM and currently manning the stall near Clogau Gold and Crouch in the centre, told us she had been overwhelmed by the generosity of South Wales shoppers so far.
“We opened last Thursday and we’ve already had almost 700 donations,” she said. “People’s generosity has been amazing.”
This is the second year St David’s and Capital FM South Wales have run the appeal. Last year saw over 5,200 toys donated, smashing the original target of 4,000. This year, the number of charities supported has doubled to 12, and the organisers hope to beat last year’s donations.
All gifts are appreciated, from small stocking fillers to bigger presents. The website has ideas of suggested presents for different age groups.
Everything must be new and unused, still in its packaging or with labels attached. Presents must be unwrapped to make it easier for sorting staff to allocate the gifts to children of the relevant age.
From 1st-22nd December, a second donation station will be set up around the Christmas tree near Watches of Switzerland and Pravins.
Steven Madeley, general manager for St David’s, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to support these fantastic local charities to help bring some Christmas magic to the children and young people they represent. Christmas is such an exciting time for us all as we give and receive gifts with family and loved ones, but for many children across South Wales this is a luxury that they don’t have.
“We are asking those who are coming to the centre to buy gifts and stocking fillers to pick up something extra that will make a big difference to a child in need. Last year, our shoppers really embraced the spirit of Christmas and the generosity was overwhelming, and we want 2016 to be even bigger and better.”
Gifts will be distributed to children supported by the following 12 South Wales charities, all pictured below at the launch of the charity campaign:
Valleys Kids – helping to broaden the horizons and develop the potential of Valleys children by giving them new experiences and activities to try.
Sparkle – helping special needs children shine. Supporting children and young people with a disability or developmental difficulty by funding the Serennu Children’s Centre in Newport.
The Salvation Army – providing services in Wales to support vulnerable families, young people and children through local churches and community centres.
LATCH – Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity. Supporting children who are receiving treatment for cancer at the Children’s Hospital for Wales and their families.
Gibbonsdown Children’s Centre – providing free and subsidised childcare to help families access work or training to improve their lives.
Tŷ Hafan – the children’s hospice for Wales. Helping life-limited children make the most of the time they have left with specialist palliative care, support and short-break care.
George Thomas Hospice Care – providing community-based specialist palliative care to those suffering from cancer and other life-threatening illnesses in Cardiff.
Dreams & Wishes – supporting seriously ill children and their families. Helping seriously ill children’s dreams and wishes come true, building happy memories, as well as offering family support throughout the child’s illness.
Barnardo’s – reaching out to disadvantaged children, young people, families and communities to help give every child the best possible start.
Y Bont – enabling disabled children to fulfil their potential by providing a happy, safe and stimulating environment for play, learning and fun.
Home Start – support and friendship for families. Offering practical and emotional help to families in such situations as isolation, bereavement, multiple births, illness and disability.
Action for Children – Supporting disadvantaged children, young people facing the most difficult problems in life from disability to being a young carer.
For more information on the Toy Appeal, visit www.stdavidscardiff.com/ToyAppeal or join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #SDToyAppeal
*This post is written in collaboration with St David’s Shopping Centre Toy Appeal