Though a magical time for many kids, Christmas is not so wonderful for those living in poverty.
Since 2013, couple Jenna and Basil Fansa, from the Local Buyers Club, have run the annual Winter Toy Appeal from their home in Stoke Newington. It ensures that around 5,000 of the poorest children in north and east London have a new toy to open on Christmas Day.
In fact, it's a real joint effort, with local councils, refuges, food banks, children's centres, migrant centres and schools handing out the donated gifts to some extremely grateful children in Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Tower Hamlets.
On its 10th anniversary, the Winter Toy Appeal is putting out an 'urgent plea' for donations, before 15 December 2023, when it wraps up for the year.
Says Jenna Fansa: "When you run charitable appeals like this it's natural to hope that one day things will improve and the need will go down – sadly that hasn’t been the case. Year on year since we launched, the agencies which refer to us have more children who meet the criteria for a gift. This year so many people are feeling the pinch that we’re struggling to collect enough donations to reach every child referred to us."
Want to make a child's Christmas? You can buy a gift online via an independent toy shop (including for local north and east London establishments) or via Amazon and they'll be passed on to agencies to distribute. There's also a Go Fund Me page.
Supporters are urged to spend around £15 on a gift — but however you decide to help out, your generosity will be passed on in toy form, putting a smile on the face of a child this Christmas.
Find out more on the Winter Toy Appeal website.