Businesses, charities, community organisations and the wider Southampton community donated a total of 30,000 gifts to mark a special end of 2021 for many Southampton children and young people
Southampton City Council’s annual toy appeal returned for its thirty-third year and a record breaking 30,000 toys and gifts were donated by kind-hearted members of the Southampton community and local businesses including Westquay, Asda and local Co-ops to Southampton Football Club and Hampshire Constabulary.
The annual appeal was started in 1988 by Southampton City Council family engagement worker Ann Farr, who sadly passed away last year. It was set up to ensure young people and children who are supported by Southampton City Council’s children’s services have a special gift to open on Christmas morning, whatever their circumstances.
The city came together for an outstanding display of generosity with 6,000 gifts donated at Westquay’s collection point and thousands of donations from local businesses and community organisations including individual organiser Alexandra Pacey who rallied friends, colleagues and other supporters together to donate a total of 3,000 gifts through a dedicated social media campaign. The gifts were collected, organised, and wrapped by 160 volunteers, totalling over 800 hours of volunteer time. The record haul of gifts were then distributed to children over the festive period by council staff.
Councillor Peter Baillie, Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care at Southampton City Council said: “The pandemic meant 2021 was also a challenging year for so many of us, despite this our city has come together once again and showed real festive community spirit with our record-breaking amount of donations!
“Together we ensured every child who is supported by Southampton City Council had a brighter Christmas morning. Thank you to everyone, from our local businesses and organisations to members of the public and those who visited Westquay for a spot of Christmas shopping and donated a gift. We were able to gift a selection of toys to every child, your support and generosity truly made Christmas day special for so many.”
Laura Read, General Manager at Westquay adds: “It was a privilege to partner with Southampton City Council again on this fantastic initiative. Despite a difficult year again for all of us it was fantastic to see the generosity of our local community and visitors. We set ourselves a target to total 5,500 presents and thanks to everyone who donated we smashed our target with a total of 6,000 presents donated to the toy appeal.”
Image: Colin McPherson from Southampton City Council and members of the Westquay team