Howgate toy appeal hopes to give children across Falkirk district a brighter Christmas

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Kind-hearted shoppers have been donating to The Howgate shopping centre’s festive toy appeal for the last 15 years.

Their generosity has ensured that hundreds of disadvantaged children across the district still enjoy the magic of Christmas.

For 2018 The Falkirk Herald is joining the retailers and centre staff to encourage even more people to donate and bring a little joy to a child or young person.

The message of Christmas is often said to be “it’s better to give than receive” and this year we want people to give in a variety of ways to help those less fortunate.

As well as donating toys and gifts, we’re asking people to buy one or two extra non-perishable food items and donate it to a foodbank or other organisation, which provides food packs and meals for those in need.

Sadly, in 2018 there are a growing number of people who struggle to put food on the table for their children and themselves, far less buy presents to put under a Christmas tree or in a stocking.

The people of Falkirk, Grangemouth, Denny, Bonnybridge, Larbert, Bo’ness and all the other villages around the district are known for their generosity to help those in need.

Let’s make this Christmas the one where no one in our community has to go without a hot meal or a child without a present from Santa.

Father Christmas took time out from supervising elves to pop into the Howgate this week to officially launch the toy appeal.

He was joined by Margaret Foy, the centre’s marketing manager, and other staff, along with some very young shoppers.

Margaret said: “For over a decade, shoppers have shown huge generosity by donating a gift which is then given to a disadvantaged child.

“The Appeal has brought Christmas goodwill to hundreds of children in our community and we know that this year, Falkirk shoppers will once again show their kindness by thinking of others in difficult situations.“

Working with Falkirk Council’s social work services and other local charities and organisations, the Howgate helps coordinate the gift giving by opening its Help Desk for all donations of gifts.

Margaret added: “Over the years we have developed strong partnerships with local companies and customers who donate every year which is fantastic to see as we know what a difference the gesture makes to children who otherwise would go without.

“We receive lots of gifts for younger children but we require even more for older children between nine to 17 years so any gifts for these age groups would be really appreciated.”

She suggested that gift cards, either for the Howgate, other retailers or Cineworld, would be ideal.

“In the past, a few local companies have organised a staff collection as their community initiative at Christmas and gave us the cash which meant we were able to give these kids gift cards, which is actually what they want so they can buy their own things.”

Borg-Grech Photography is one of those companies already getting involved and if you mention ‘Howgate Promotion’ when booking a Christmas studio sitting, the booking fee will be waived in favour of a children’s toy. To book call 01324 635716, Facebook or email sales@borg-grechphoto.com

Once all gifts are wrapped, the relevant agencies ensure that they are distributed in plenty of time before December 25 to ensure that children know the joy of Christmas.

Shoppers are being asked to buy a present that is suitable for either a boy or girl aged from birth to 17 years of age and hand it unwrapped to the Help Desk located opposite Dorothy Perkins by Sunday, December 9.