Last Christmas, two children woke up extremely excited. The siblings had received gifts from ELBA and BIG Alliance's Toy Appeal and couldn’t wait to play with their new toys; a big pack of Lego and a new doll.
Some of us may take this scene for granted, however, for many families in east London and Islington, giving their child a toy at Christmas is a luxury they cannot afford. The mother of this family had experienced domestic violence and for over a year, her and the children had been living in a safe house. During this time, the children had been isolated, scared and afraid to go out. She was finally able to find more permanent accommodation and started accessing the services of one of ELBA’s community partners. At Christmas the family attended the community organisation’s Christmas party where toys from ELBA and BIG Alliance’s annual Toy Appeal were given out. One of the support workers said:
“Giving out toys was such a big surprise for them, the mother was in tears. She was very happy and felt that she was blessed to have found us. The children’s excitement was contagious.”
This is the reason why ELBA and BIG Alliance run the Toy Appeal every year. It’s simply not right that in some parts of east London and Islington, up to and over 50% of children live in poverty. Many of these children would not receive a present at Christmas. The ELBA and BIG Alliance Toy Appeal aims to bring a small bit of happiness to these children. At ELBA and BIG Alliance, we believe that in our society, every child deserves to feel joy at Christmas, regardless of their background or situation.
Toys donated to the appeal are distributed to ELBA and BIG Alliance's community partners in east London and Islington. All these organisations work with families and children who are experiencing hardship for different reasons. This includes families that are fleeing domestic violence, living in emergency temporary accommodation, refugees, and children with disabilities and additional needs.
Each toy is donated by an individual employee from the companies that ELBA and BIG Alliance work with. Last year, people’s generosity was incredible with nearly 10,000 toys donated. While it’s easy to celebrate the success and scale of the appeal, the sad reality is that there were many children that may not have otherwise received a gift at Christmas if it wasn’t for the Toy Appeal.
With the percentage of children living in poverty in Tower Hamlets and Islington at 57% and 47% respectively, we want to make this year’s Toy Appeal even bigger to support more children and families in this small but significant way.
One community partner perfectly summed up the simple joy of receiving a toy:
“One little girl could not stop jigging and dancing when she saw her doll. She was so happy she just kept saying ‘WOW!’”
If you’d like to take part in the ELBA and BIG Alliance Toy Appeal, please contact: Ashley Rice firstname.lastname@example.org