Southampton City Council has launched its 35th annual Christmas toy appeal in Westquay shopping centre.

Council leader, Cllr Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Children and Learning, Cllr Alexander Winning, and Westquay Manager, Laura Read were all on hand to launch the appeal that will be active until December 21.

Those wanting to take part in the appeal can pick up a name tag of a child's name, age, and gender at Westquay level 3 - next to Auntie Anne's - where gifts can also be added to a collection box, before they are wrapped and distributed in time for Christmas.

Daily Echo:

The purpose of the appeal is for businesses and members of the public to donate gifts that can be given to disadvantaged children, supported by the council, to open on Christmas day.

Speaking to the Echo, Cllr Winning said: “For 35 years the people of Southampton have shown such kindness and generosity to provide new toys for children that are in need in the city.

“Christmas is a special time for everyone – especially children – where it should be a magical time, but unfortunately there are some that do go without.

“So, for us, it’s about ensuring every child does get a gift and can go back to school after the Christmas holidays and not have to pretend they got something when they didn’t, and they can be proud of what they’ve received.”Council Social Work Manager Colin McPherson has helped run the toy appeal for the past two years.

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He noted that it was a priority to get as many suitable presents for teenagers as possible, as they’re often neglected.

He said: “We’re beyond grateful for all the donations we receive.

“It’s our 35th year and it’s grown into a monster which is amazing because we can really help those that need it.

“It would be brilliant if we could get some presents that are suitable for teenagers, as there might be some things that are incredible for the younger children that an older child will have grown out of.”

Daily Echo:

Cllr Kaur added: “Every year the appeal seems to get bigger and bigger.

“This wouldn’t be possible without the support of the local communities and businesses.

"A heartfelt thank you to all our volunteers and Westquay for playing their part; please keep giving.”

Laura Read, manager of Westquay, stated she was ‘incredibly proud’ to be involved with the initiative.

She said: “For over a decade now, Westquay has been the host of the toy appeal and it’s something we’re incredibly proud of.

“We want to give children the best possible Christmas that they can have.”