The Archant London paper has teamed up with local charity Community Links to run an annual Christmas Toy Appeal for 36 years to make sure that every child in one of the UK’s poorest boroughs receives a gift on Christmas morning.
The target has risen with the paper’s ambitions over the years and regular donations from all sections of the community have continued to boost the campaign.
This year saw EastEnders’ actors Ricky Grover and Perry Fenwick (pictured) donate an Albert Square sign, autographed by the cast, auctioned off to buy more presents while Stratford-boy and first winner of BBC’s The Apprentice Tim Campbell pledged his support for the campaign.
There were also significant donations from the Newham Chamber of Commerce, West Ham United Football Club, Aspers Casino in Westfield Stratford City, Tate & Lyle Sugars, and the London Legacy Development Corporation.
Local schools also played their part by bringing in toys, books, and organising fundraising events.
Pubs such as the Beckton Arms and the East Ham Working Men’s Club discounted drinks for customers, donating the rest of the money to the Toy Appeal, and every regular at The Greyhound pub in Stratford turned up in full Santa costumes with a gift for the campaign.
The presents were then delivered by festive Christmas bikers from four east London motorcycling organisations.
Melissa York, reporter on the Recorder, said: “Thanks to the unwavering support and donations from our readers, local businesses, charities, schools, pubs, the Mayor and councillors, to name only a few, every child – no matter what obstacles or poverty they face – woke up to a present on Christmas morning.
“These are tough times for us all but the big-hearted generosity shows that community spirit is alive and well in Newham.”
Malcolm Starbrook, editor of the Newham Recorder, said: “We’re delighted that there has been a fantastic amount of toys and gifts donated in such a short time. This has made a huge difference to many children and families in Newham and we’re incredibly grateful for all our readers’ support and hard work.”
Former editor Colin Grainger, who left the Recorder in December after 40 years, began the Toy Appeal with Community Links founder Kevin Jenkins in 1976 and he was recently awarded the Freedom of Community Links for over three decades of dedicated service to the charity.