Salford residents have responded generously to a Christmas toy drive, creating a ‘massive response’.
Salford pub, The Royal Oak has once again had a successful annual toy drive to ensure children in Salford can have a merry Christmas.
Pub owner, Karen Baird has ran the Christmas toy collection at the Royal Oak for the past three years and, despite the pandemic, the people of Salford have given generously this year.
Karen said: “You can see from the amount of toys that we have we’ve had a massive response”
The cosy Boothstown local was filled with board games, books, dolls, arts and crafts supplies, body care products, Lego and soft toys, all of which have been donated to the Salvation Army.
It’s not just toys that have been donated, Flixton academy of performing arts donated £150 to the cause which bought 30 toys.
Karen was inspired to organise the toy collection after the Covid-19 pandemic. With many people being unable to afford presents for their children at this time of year, Karen wanted to help those in need.
“We always fundraise here for all sorts of things, and we just felt like the toy collection was a good one to do.
“Within this current climate, its vital that everybody within your community can try and help somebody that’s struggling.”
Karen began collecting toys on the 1st of November to ensure that there was plenty of time for people to buy and donate good quality gifts for children who are in need.
The Royal Oak is a pillar of the local community of Boothstown, and Karen sees it as her responsibility to help where she can.
“Being a business, I also feel that you have a little bit of responsibility to the community, not to just take from it but to give back. So we are quite strong about fundraising and charity events”
The Royal Oak also runs charity events throughout the year and has previously held raffles, auctions and sponsored walks to help raise money for the local community.
Last year, they raised £800 for Cancer Research during a sponsored walk, and a further £450 for Derian House children’s hospice.
Major Michael West, minister of the Salvation Army Swinton, was blown away by the generosity of the local community.
“These are proper toys, these are toys I would gladly buy for my daughter”
Michael feels that this show of support for struggling families at this time of year is important because it lets people know they are valued members of the community.
“These toys say we value these children.”
“For me it’s about empowering them, it’s about the fact, say for instance there’s a cracking toy, I want to be able to say genuinely the patrons and staff of this establishment have given generously.”
Only new toys in original packaging were accepted for the collection as both Karen and Michael felt it was important to provide children with something new to enjoy.
“I did get some second hand toy donations and I ended up taking them to the tip because I don’t think It’s fair to give a child a second hand toy for Christmas, I understand people mean well but these children should get something new just like anyone else.”
Michael said: “Why should they be grateful for a £2 toy? … Isn’t everybody entitled to a decent gift at Christmas?”
“Why should somebody I don’t know have a lesser Christmas than my own children? Is this toy going to change someone’s life? No, but it just might make them smile for Christmas.”
The toys will be distributed throughout the borough of Salford.
“Any area where there’s real need, we’ll be working with children and family centres, schools, self referrals, doctors surgery’s, people that we know within our immediate community, really we’re trying just to meet the need in the immediate area.”