As the cost of living crisis continues, one in seven parents and caregivers have revealed they won’t be able to afford Christmas presents for their children this year, according to the charity Family Action.
Its survey of just over 1,000 people found one in five won’t be able to heat their homes this Christmas, and almost half of parents and carers (47%) expect to be in debt after the festive period.
“Every family deserves comfort and joy at Christmas, but with the high costs of food and utilities, many will find their holiday season stressful and difficult,” said the charity’s chief executive David Holmes.
“We work with thousands of families across the country, and from the research findings and feedback from our frontline staff, we know only too well the challenges families are facing.”
With new research from pub chain Hungry Horse suggesting over two million UK children could go without a single present this Christmas, charities are desperate for help to make the festive season sparkle for thousands of kids up and down the country.
If you want to donate toys (or money to buy toys) for children who will otherwise go without this Christmas, here are some places to do just that:
1. Your local pub
Yes, really. You can take your preloved, new or unused toys to any Hungry Horse pub and they’ll distribute them to charities who support kids at Christmas.
It’s the third year the pub chain has run the Christmas toy donation initiative – in 2022, a whopping 10,000 presents were donated.
Donation stations will be open in each of the 235 Hungry Horse pubs across the UK between November 14 and December 18.
2. Children’s hospitals
Some hospitals – like Great Ormond Street, London – accept brand new toys in their original packaging which are then donated to sick children. It’s worth flagging they can’t accept secondhand stuff due to infection control measures.
Gifts can be posted to: Gifts in Kind, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Second Floor, 40 Bernard Street, London WC1N 1LE or you can email email@example.com or call 020 3841 3841 to arrange to drop your donation off.
Other hospitals accepting toy donations include:
Every year the Salvation Army distributes brand new toys to children who otherwise wouldn’t receive a gift as part of its Christmas Present Appeal – in 2022, it dished out a staggering 76,000 pressies.
Lots of Salvation Army churches and centres across the UK will be collecting donated presents until mid-December.
There are some of the items they’re looking for, specifically:
- 0-3 years: dolls, teddy bears, cot mobiles, baby clothes, bath toys, CDs of suitable music and nursery rhymes, puzzles
- 3-5: dolls and action figures, cars, lorries, DVDs and CDs (music and nursery rhymes), colouring sets, pencils, crayons, books, puzzles
- 5-9: educational games & toys, stationery (colouring sets, pencils, crayons, school sets), CDs & family friendly DVDs, books, puzzles, wordsearch, crosswords
- 9-12: games and toys, stationery, DVDs, books, t-shirts, hair accessories, gloves, scarves, hats
- 13-16: books, make-up and toiletries (please try to ensure non-allergic ingredients if possible), gloves, scarves, hats, t-shirts, hair accessories and gift vouchers.
4. Via a toy appeal
If you don’t have any toys to donate, a really quick way to help provide a child in need with toys this winter is via the Toy Appeal, which is accepting monetary donations to buy gifts for little ones.
This allows it to buy toys in bulk via toy wholesalers at much reduced rates, meaning it can support more children year on year – each child receives a little red sack containing eight presents suitable for their age.
The charity said it has been inundated with requests for toys this year but said on X, formerly Twitter, that donations have been “much lower than ever before”.
5. At Lidl
Yup, the supermarket. Lidl is running a toy bank this Christmas, in partnership with Neighbourly, so shoppers can gift new, unopened toys – whether arts and crafts, games, puzzles, books or toys – to children in the local area.
Donations can be made from November 2 until December 16 during store opening hours, with donation points located just before the exit of each store.