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Spread extra holiday cheer by supporting Salvos’ toy drive

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The Salvation Army volunteer Tracey Richards knows first-hand the impact a toy drive can have on a family at Christmas.

In fact, she originally encountered the Salvos at a time she herself was doing it tough.

That’s why the local resident is encouraging others to spread some extra holiday cheer by donating a gift to the organisation for its annual Christmas Toy Drive Appeal, which is supported by Newcastle Permanent.

Salvation Army volunteer Tracey Richards, Newcastle Permanent chief technology officer Jodi Stapleton and Salvation Army Auxiliary Lieutenant Bernie Muendel.

“I came from homelessness and domestic violence,” Ms Richards said.

“I was on the pension and wasn’t fit to work and the Salvos were amazing, helping with my daughter.

“The quality of presents in the toy drive are wonderful, it was such a massive help.

“My daughter, who was 11 when we first started going to the Salvos, didn’t even know we were doing it tough because of the assistance we were receiving, the love and everything that goes with the gift.

“It was always special for her each Christmas.”

Through the help of The Salvation Army, Ms Richards was able to find a home for herself and her daughter.

Now, she’s determined to give back.

“I volunteer in the Food Market at Bolton Point and the Community of Hope in Toronto to help with homelessness,” she said.

“For the Christmas Toy Drive Appeal, I’ll help with the toys and wrap presents with my daughter.

“She’ll be helping kids, too, who were in the same predicament she was.

“I’m so grateful and thankful.

“Forever I will volunteer and help – whatever I can do.”

Auxiliary Lieutenant Bernie Muendel acknowledged that while Christmas was often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year, for families struggling, without the help of The Salvation Army, this might not be the case.

“We expect there’ll be about 3,500 children in the Hunter who may wake up on Christmas morning without a present to open,” he said.

“Through the generosity of Newcastle Permanent and the community, we can help put a few more smiles on faces at this special time of year.”

Chief technology officer Jodi Stapleton said Newcastle Permanent was deeply proud to support the Salvation Army Christmas Toy Drive Appeal, a 34-year-old tradition.

“The Salvos anticipate to donate more than 6,700 gifts in the Hunter this year,” she stated.

“Our people will volunteer to help sort and distribute these gifts.

“With about 1,600 Hunter families in need this Christmas, Newcastle Permanent’s partnership with the Salvos allows us to band together as an organisation to help bring some magic to families who may be doing it tough.”

More than just toys

While it is called the Toy Drive appeal, Aux Lt Muendel said donations could come in a variety of forms.

“Many children in need are teenagers, so we encourage the community to consider donating gift cards and other suitable gifts for older children,” he explained.

“If you are able, please add a Salvos Toy Drive pressie to your Christmas shopping list and drop it in to a Newcastle Permanent branch to help bring a smile to a young person’s face this Christmas.”

Gifts for the Toy Drive should be new and unwrapped.

Ideas include vouchers, games, beauty products, fashion accessories, toys, clothing, books and sporting equipment.

Donations can be made at any Newcastle Permanent branch from now until Friday 16 December.

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