Why the Christmas Toy Appeal is still a lifeline to hundreds of families almost three decades after it was launched / Sue Plunkett
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The Burnley Express got on board with the project, helping with publicity and promotion and the former office in Bull Street acted as a collection point for gifts. To think that this appeal is still going strong, 28 years later, is just remarkable. Sadly the Salvation Army had to bow out at the start of the pandemic as the volunteers who helped to run it were mainly elderly and had to isolate.
I will never forget receiving a call from the then captain, Lorraine O’Neill, to say she was devastated that the appeal may have to end.
But I assured her there and then that we would not let that happen... even though I had literally no idea how we, the Burnley Express, would plan and co-ordinate it.
A colleague suggested approaching Burnley Together, the project made up of several companies and organisations to offer help and support to people during covid, and, without hesitation, they agreed to take it on. What a relief that was because the thought of not being able to provide some much needed toys and gifts to help vulnerable families across Burnley and Padiham was just heartbreaking.
Burnley Together is now hosting its fourth Christmas present appeal and hats off to co ordinator Nicola Larnach who oversees the project with such grace, cheerfulness and THE best organisation skills of anyone I know.
I have been thinking this week about the thousands of children who must have benefitted from the appeal over the decades. Imagine being in the position where you can’t afford to buy presents for your children?
That’s why the appeal is so vital and, I know we always say it, but the people of Burnley and Padiham really are a very generous lot. I became involved with promoting the appeal about 15 years ago and it brought a tear to my eye when the many donations started to flood in. This appeal really does embody the true Christmas spirit and I am so very proud to be part of it.
If you would like to donate a present or your company could host a collection box for donations for a couple of weeks all the information is here.