TOYS, Christmas crackers and festive food are urgently needed to fill gift parcels for Horsham’s poorest people.
The Salvation Army’s food and gift parcels are an essential part of the charity’s work at Christmas and Horsham Captains Ian and Sue Woodgate are appealing to County Times readers to help them.
Generous donations last year enabled the charity to give about 200 parcels to people in need and Sue and Ian told the County Times they expect to be giving out more this year.
Sue said: “What’s really shocked us this year is the number of people finding themselves pushed to the edge. More and more people are being pushed further and further.
“I think particularly this year, compared with last year, there’s less in your trolley for the same amount of money and these food parcels help families who are on the edge.
“It really is a choice between giving presents or feeding their children.
“They are really struggling to feed their families week in, week out. A week’s worth of shopping is a real gift at Christmas. Why Christmas? We do this all year round, but at Christmas we particularly reach out to those people who wouldn’t come to us every week. There are no strings attached.”
For the toy and gift parcels, they need toys for all ages from babies up to teenagers and also gifts for elderly people who are left alone at Christmas.
Nappies and baby milk are expensive essentials for any family, and if parents cannot afford them, are the perfect Christmas gift.
Sue said: “For older people, just think ‘What would my granny like?’. We give away note pads, hats and scarves.
“It’s great to involve your children too. Take them shopping and say, ‘We’re going to buy a present for a child who doesn’t have much this Christmas,’ and let them choose something.
“Then on Christmas Day say, ‘Just imagine that a little girl or boy is opening your present now’.
“Last year people were so generous coming in giving £10 gift vouchers. For parents to give a £10 voucher to their child - you can’t measure what that means to them.”
People can also donate rolls of wrapping paper to give parents the chance to wrap presents for their children. The food parcels are filled with the luxury food items that make Christmas special.
Sue said: “The number of people out there who are on their own and not able to buy themselves a box of mince pies is unbelievable.
“It’s those special things that matter. Last year we had lots of Christmas crackers, mince pies, chocolates, napkins and cheeses. If you have a box of eight crackers and there are just four in your family, you can bring the other four to us.”
They hear about people in need of help from different sources.
Sue said: “Last year we gave over 100 to schools, some have been nominated by social services and social workers. One school nominated 40 families.
“Some of them are self referrals and there are people we have got to know throughout the year.”
People can take their donations to the Salvation Army Community and Worship Centre at Booth Way, Horsham.
To nominate someone in need or volunteer to be a drop off point contact Ian and Sue on 01403 254624.