Santa's big helpers! Wokingham residents donate to The Giving Tree appeal in their thousands

Generous presents will ensure no child in Wokingham borough will go without on Christmas Day

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Giving Tree Wokingham
Jenni Coates and Emma Altoft from Transform Housing and Support with The Giving Tree’s Gill Mckernan and some gifts Picture: Phil Creighton

FATHER CHRISTMAS needs a bigger sleigh – and it’s all thanks to you.

Once again, Wokingham residents have risen to the challenge of donating an abundance of toys to the annual Giving Tree appeal.

The gifts will be given to children who might otherwise receive nothing this year – no child will go without this Christmas.

The campaign, which has been running for 18 years, invites people to choose a tag from one of the many Giving Trees across the borough, buy the gift on the tag and return it to the tree.

Big-hearted volunteers then go to work to get the presents to the local charities benefiting from the appeal and make sure they go to children whose stockings might otherwise have been empty on Christmas morning.

And the volunteers have been kept extra-busy this year sorting all the presents so they go to the right child.

Gifts given include giant art sets, pianos, skateboards, board games, cuddly toys, Nerf guns – children have asked and you have donated.

Gill Mckernan, from Barnardo’s High Close School, who organises the appeal with a team of volunteers including the kind staff at Transform Housing, who are helping with the present sorting, described this year’s effort as “brilliant”.

She said: “The Giving Tree appeal has gone so very well this year and 2,000 tags have been taken from the trees placed across the borough including Tesco, Newbury Building Society, Morrisons and Wokingham Library.

“The gifts are nearly all in and are with the charities being wrapped up ready for Christmas Day.

“It is obvious how much care and attention the generous people of our local area have taken in choosing the perfect gift. The children have been bought such lovely presents with some extras being included.

“There will be some very happy children on Christmas Day. Rest assured all the presents given will be delivered in time for Christmas Day.”

And The Giving Tree is a team effort – a number of charities and businesses all come together to make the annual appeal such a success.

Mrs Mckernan said: “I want to thank everyone who has bought a gift and for all the businesses for hosting a tree and delivering the presents. Transform Housing have worked tirelessly in collecting and sorting out the gifts.

“An extra thank you to Tesco in Wokingham for organising the launch and promoting The Giving Tree. They have collected hundreds of gifts donated by their ever generous customers.

“Thanks too to PriceWaterhouseCooper for their help printing the tags and posters.

“Without their help, The Giving Tree couldn’t happen but most importantly, it wouldn’t go ahead without the generosity and kindness of the local people.

“On behalf of all the children, I would like to say a huge thank you as unfortunately, they aren’t able to thank you themselves. I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.”

The Wokingham charities that will benefit Barnardo’s, Berkshire Women’s Aid, Building For The Future, Children With Special Needs Foundation, Dingley Family and Specialist Early Years Centre, First Days, Home Start, Kaleidoscopic UK, Look Ahead Care and Support, Sebastian’s Action Trust, Transform Housing and Wokingham Young Carers.

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