The kind-hearted people of Angus should be proud of the effort they have made to help brighten the lives of local children this Christmas.
Their support for the Arbroath-based Angus Toy Appeal has ensured 560 children in the county had a present to open on Christmas morning.
The project - run by a dedicated team of seven committee members - has seen donations flood in to collection points throughout the county.
Staff and patients at hospitals and dental practices, school pupils and church congregations, as well as local businesses, have donated a variety of toys suitable for children aged from birth to 18 - and the response has been overwhelming.
Referrals are received from social work, other charities, agencies and organisations, and this year the number of referrals has been staggering.
Lynn Richards, of the Angus Toy Appeal, told us: “There were over 40 donation points from Carnoustie to Kirriemuir, including dental and GP surgeries, residential homes, shops, hairdressers and a lot of Angus Council offices.
“The diversity of people who have supported us with great donations is amazing.
“We have had two Kindles, a bike, a motor scooter as well as so many other fab toys and gifts.”
The volunteers spend the weeks running up to Christmas organising visits to the local collection points and sorting out the fantastic toys, gifts and selection boxes which have been donated.
Gifts for babies through to teenagers have been handed in, and money donated has also been used to purchase a selection of gifts and toothbrushes.
Lynn continued: “The seven committee members have mixed emotions about this year.
“We have been able to reach even more children across Angus through schools, colleges and health visitors, which is great, but there are still so many children living in poverty throughout Angus.
“We have to remember that people do not need to be on benefits to be struggling financially.
“So far we have been able to reach over 450 children Angus wide, which caught us on the hop a bit, and we have been out in force shopping for scooters, skateboards, footballs, board games and books.
“We try to make sure each child gets their own toothbrush, selection box, and book as well as lots of other toys and gifts that are donated; this ends up being a black bag worth of goodies for each child.
“It’s a lot of hard work, and Criminal Justice Unpaid Works teams really help us out by delivering all the heavy bags for us; they love being part of our appeal too.
“Without the people of Angus supporting us in a time when a lot of charities are struggling, none of this would be possible.
“When the Angus Toy Appeal first started over 20 years ago we supported under 50 children, this year has been the biggest ever, and next year we will push to reach even more children.
“We can’t thank everyone enough for their toy, gift and financial donations.”
Last year, Angus County Press ran a successful campaign to support the work of the Angus Toy Appeal - and this year we are again delighted to support its incredible work.
Mike Rankin, editor Scottish Weeklies North, said: “Sadly, even in this country, there are children who do not look forward to Christmas.
“Why? Well for various reasons outwith their control all the things we enjoy during the festive season - presents, good food, spending time with family and relishing the time of year - are denied them, which is why the Angus Toy Appeal is so important and worthwhile.
“It succeeds thanks to the generosity of the people and businesses in our area and Angus County Press is pleased and a wee bit humbled to be able to do our bit to help.
“Merry Christmas one and all.”
The Angus Toy Appeal was started around 2004 to give toys, books and games to children living in poverty.
The first few years the small band of volunteers collected in mainly second hand toys donated by an Arbroath church congregation, toddler groups and other generous members of the public.
Around 40 children received gifts in the first couple of years - now the figure has grown more than ten fold with new toys being purchased and donations made to help brighten the lives of local children.
The appeal is now run Angus wide.
The appeal uses Criminal Justice Services unpaid work teams to help with the delivery and pick up of the donation boxes, as well as the delivery of the bags to those who have made the referrals.
Anyone wishing to contact the appeal can email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Facebook.