THE Salvation Army says demand for its food parcels in York has rocketed by 50 per cent – and it anticipates further pleas for help in the run-up to the festive season.

Now spokesman Major Andrew Dunkinson has appealed for Press readers to save Christmas for scores of families by backing our Toys & Tins Appeal.

Major Dunkinson said the army handed out 584 food parcels in the first nine months of this year, compared with only 389 in the same period last year.

“We are expecting similar increases in the need for help with toys and food over the Christmas period,” he said.

“We are living in very challenging times. Most of the families involved are facing a combination of difficulties with ill-health, unemployment, social problems and the risk of homelessness.

“We are doing all we can to help but we rely on the good will of the people of York who donate food and toys to us.”

He said the need for help from the The Salvation Army rose sharply last Christmas, with its volunteers handing out 250 Christmas hampers and toys for more than 230 children.

“On behalf of all those who were helped in this way, the Salvation Army would like to say a big thank you to the York Press readers who gave so generously to last year’s appeal,” he said.

“The Salvation Army receives no local authority funding or support for this work so we depend on the kindness of individuals who make this vital relief work possible.”

The Toys & Tins Appeal has long been asking readers to donate unwanted toys and tins of food to help the Salvation Army and also the city’s refuge for women and their children who have escaped domestic abuse.

The newspaper has now teamed up with Monks Cross shopping park’s annual Give A Gift Appeal, which also benefits York Carers Centre.

Items for the three good causes can be left over the next three weeks at either The Press’s offices in Walmgate, between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, or at the Monks Cross Information Centre, next door to BHS.