THE SOUTHAMPTON community is invited to donate toys as Southampton City Council launches its annual Christmas toy appeal.

For the 33rd year running, businesses, charities, community organisations and members of the community can donate toys to help brighten up Christmas for the city’s children.

The council has teamed up with Westquay, and many other organisations, to help ensure that young people who are supported by the council’s children’s services have a special gift to open on Christmas morning.

Cllr Peter Baillie, cabinet member for children’s social care at Southampton City Council said: "It’s great to kick-off this year’s toy appeal to help give children a brighter Christmas. The city has shone with kindness and generosity over the years and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

"It has been a challenging 18 months for all of us, while a sense of normality returns for most, many families will still be facing difficult circumstances this Christmas.

"I’m pleased to be once again partnering with Westquay and other brilliant community champions across the city to call on our community to do what they can to bring a bright smile to so many children’s faces on Christmas morning."

A present drop-off point will be open at Westquay’s customer services desk where members of the public can donate new toys, suitable for children up to the age of 18, until Monday, December 20.

Last year, 5,000 presents were donated through the drop off point and Westquay is looking to exceed the total this year, setting a target of 5,500.

The appeal took place under unusual circumstances in 2020, including a shorter window for donations.

Despite this over 20,000 toys were donated including those from Westquay customers as well as charities, community groups and other organisations across the city.

This year, with restrictions eased, organisers remain hopeful that this amount will be exceeded.

Laura Read, general manager at Westquay said: "We’re proud to once again support the Southampton toy appeal and looking forward to seeing the generosity of both our local community and visitors to hopefully help us meet our target of 5,500 presents this year."

Southampton FC will be donating £10,000 worth of presents to the appeal for the second year running.

Members of staff from across the club will be rallying around to purchase toys from local shops to fulfil wish lists from some of the children supported by the council.