Hundreds of gifts are on their way to youngsters across Sunderland, thanks to an initiative by two of the region’s leading shopping centres and a Wearside Rotary group.
Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange Shopping Centre was overwhelmed by the generosity of local people who responded to its call-out for its Giving Tree appeal, asking for presents for youngsters facing a Christmas without much joy.
Thousands of gifts were donated, with the result that the centre decided to spread the love into other areas, teaming up with the Bridges’ in Sunderland and Rotary group SR1 to distribute more than 500 of the toys across Wearside and beyond.
The Bridges has donated an empty unit so the gifts can be stored and sorted to ensure that the presents are age-appropriate and they will then be delivered by members of the Rotary group.
Included in those set to benefit are St Mary’s Church, Sunderland, The Salvation Army, South Tyneside Women’s Refuge, Wearside Women in Need, Action for Children, Together for Children and Hope Springs.
Mark Rycraft, Centre Manager at Middleton Grange, said he was “blown away by the success of this campaign.”
“We’re thrilled that the generosity of the local community, and that of the country, has enabled us to help so many worthy charities,” he said.
“The Giving Tree is a campaign that allows us to work together as one to alleviate the stress our fellow neighbours may have on their shoulders.
“In a year as difficult as this one has been, this has never been more important, and so we’re immensely grateful for The Bridges and the SR1 Rotary for helping to deliver the gifts.”
Karen Eve, Centre Director at the Bridges said she was “overjoyed with the opportunity to collaborate with Middleton Grange Shopping Centre and SR1 Rotary in delivering 500 gifts to families in Sunderland.
“Donations such as these are more important than ever, particularly with so many charities struggling after having to pause most of their fundraising activities throughout 2020,” she said.
“Christmas has always been a time of generous charitable giving and the support demonstrated for the project in Hartlepool is nothing short of heroic.
“It means we have been able to give gifts to youngsters who may have missed out because of the pandemic, which is amazing.”
Sergio Petrucci, President of Rotary SR1, which supports a range of good causes every Christmas, said the group was also delighted to be involved.
“We’ve helped with identifying organisations and individuals that really need some support this year and we will be delivering gifts so that children won’t miss out at what should be the most exciting time of year,” said Sergio.