THE Salvation Army in York has launched an annual appeal to try to ensure all children wake up to presents on Christmas Day.

Shoppers are being asked to add an extra toy to their shopping list and donate it to the appeal to help parents struggling to afford a gift for their child.

Major Andrew Dunkinson said that 685 disadvantaged children in York and North Yorkshire were referred last year to The Salvation Army by professional partner agencies, with 318 families being referred for food assistance.

He said: “Sadly, we hear too often of local people in food and heating poverty. With increasing pressures on families already struggling to cope, we do not want any child to wake up on Christmas morning without a gift.

“Neither do we want parents going into debt in order to provide for their children.

“We are asking people to donate a new, unused toy or gift for a child aged 0 to 17 years at any of our collection points in the city.

“The public in York are so generous and, whilst we can’t be there to see every gift opened, these toys will light up the faces of hundreds of local children on Christmas Day and assure them that there are people in their community who care and want to share the joy of Christmas with them.”

He said that every gift, whether small or large, was welcome but he was asking for brand-new toys or gifts, ‘so the children feel extra special.’

Dave Culf, manager of Tesco Extra Stores in Tadcaster Road, which will be one of the collection points for toys on Friday and Saturday, November 17 and 18, said staff were ‘thrilled to be helping to support local families in need,” and said the store would “hopefully provide a welcome boost to the appeal.”

Major Dunkinson said gifts could also be dropped off at any of these other points from this Friday, every day until December 10: Toys R Us at Clifton Moor, Thomas Cook at Clifton Moor, NatWest bank in Market Street, Herbert Todd & Son at Monks Cross and Acomb and Starbucks at Monks Cross.

*The Press will again stage its own annual Toys & Tins Appeal, for the Salvation Army and also for a York refuge for victims of domestic violence, early in December.