Kids get best present ever!

Members of Doncaster Salvation Army celebrate after receiving hundreds of gifts from Doncaster Free Press readers. L-R are Cpt Anne Crane, community manager Martin Wileman, Cpt Stuart Crane, and Toy Appeal co-ordinator Peter Gumsley. Picture: Liz Mockler D1462LM
Members of Doncaster Salvation Army celebrate after receiving hundreds of gifts from Doncaster Free Press readers. L-R are Cpt Anne Crane, community manager Martin Wileman, Cpt Stuart Crane, and Toy Appeal co-ordinator Peter Gumsley. Picture: Liz Mockler D1462LM

A CAMPAIGN to make Christmas sparkle for hundreds of under-privileged children by making sure they receive a present has been smashed.

Despite the economic downturn generous Free Press readers backed our festive presents appeal to such an extent that three times the number of donations were handed in than we had hoped for.

It now means that 1,800 youngsters who would normally go without a gift, are set to wake up on Christmas morning with a smile on their face and a present to unwrap.

The Free Press teamed up with The Salvation Army for its annual Christmas Present Appeal in a bid to make sure every child in Doncaster has a Christmas to remember.

It was hoped the appeal would see 600 presents collected, but Captain Stuart Crane, leader of The Salvation Army in Doncaster said it had received 1,200 gifts and thousands of pounds in cash which will be used to buy around another 600 toys.

Money donated to the appeal included an amazing £6,000 from Lord Kirkham, founder of the DFS furniture empire.

Cpt Crane said: “The Salvation Army in Doncaster would like to extend its immense gratitude to the Doncaster Free Press and the people of the town for wholeheartedly supporting our Christmas Present Appeal.

“With the backing of our local newspaper we have managed to reach into the hearts of townsfolk who have really pulled out all the stops to make sure hundreds of children and their families have a happier Christmas.

“We want to assure all our donors, including Lord Kirkham who gave the appeal a tremendous boost with his £6,000 donation, that all the gifts and monies will go to those who might have otherwise woken up on Christmas morning to little or nothing.” Lord Kirkham is the son of an adopted miner, grew up in Edlington and now lives in Sprotbrough.

He said: “I am a firm believer that society works as long as the strong help the weak, the able help those less able and the better off those not so lucky - and that applies 52 weeks a year, not just at Christmas time.

“Children’s needs pull the heart strings, but it would be nice if in 2012 we could resolve to help all those, young and old, not so fortunate as us”.

Doncaster Rovers have also pledged support with an offer to provide free tickets to a Rovers match in the New Year for the children.

Gifts for children aged 0 to 16 were taken unwrapped to Superdrug stores in Waterdale and the Frenchgate Centre where they are currently being wrapped and distributed to vulnerable children and families in Doncaster through The Salvation Army’s own networks, community groups and social services.

Some of the extra presents will go to Doncaster Council’s child protection team which asked for 550 toys.

South Yorkshire Newspapers’ editor-in-chief Graeme Huston said: “Once again we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Free Press readers and I’m sure this Christmas will now be one to remember for hundreds of children across the borough as a result of the appeal.”