ELBA’s 2018 Toy Appeal keeps delivering to east London children

 In Community, News

This Christmas, news headlines were dominated by stories of poor sales on the high street as customers tighten their purse strings. Despite this, people’s generosity was overwhelming, with almost 10,000 toys being donated to ELBA’s annual Toy Appeal. This meant that thousands of children across east London and Islington were able to wake up on Christmas day with a present that they were not expecting.

With some of the highest levels of child poverty in the country, there are many children in east London that would not receive a toy at Christmas. The ELBA Toy Appeal aims to give these children a small gift to bring a bit of happiness during the festive period and take the pressure off a family that may be struggling financially and worrying about providing a toy for their children.

The 2018 Toy Appeal supported more community organisations than ever before with 55 of ELBA’s charity partners receiving toys. 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 severe learning need and medical disabilities.

A toy may seem small, but the impact it can have on a child is profound. The Child Protection Officer from one of the schools that receives toys via the appeal spoke to us about one family she works with:

“One family I work with is a single mum with two children. The mother will visit me throughout the year to obtain food bank vouchers and support for uniform. Through this, she has formed a relationship with me and is able to communicate her anxieties: one being around Christmas and how she was going to buy her children gifts. In comes ELBA. Mother was overwhelmed with the support and was able to feel less anxiety during the Christmas period which can be a very stressful time for some parents.”

She added how this can positively affect a family over the long term:

“Not only does it enable positive relationships between professionals and parents, but it also enables long lasting relationships. This particular parent was struggling with bringing her child to school and her attendance was very poor last academic year. Since support has been given not just over Christmas but throughout the year, the child’s attendance and academic performance have improved.”

Each toy is donated by an individual from the companies that take part in the appeal and this year saw the most ever companies taking part. In total, employees from 59 companies donated to the Toy Appeal including long term contributors UBS, HSBC and Credit Suisse and also new contributors to the appeal such as NMPI Digital, Rubicon Estates and Farfetch. These companies cover a range of industries from banking to online fashion. Their generosity meant that 9,674 toys were given out to children.

With such large numbers of toys, ELBA couldn’t deliver the appeal without the support of volunteers. Over the course of 2 weeks, 89 volunteers came to our grotto to be Santa’s helpers by taking deliveries, sort toys and then get them ready for distribution. Some also got the fun job of taking part in a toy dash. This meant taking donated vouchers to Westfield and buying as many toys as possible!

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 more than 32,000 children living below the poverty line in Tower Hamlets alone, we want to make next year’s Toy Appeal even bigger to try to support even more children and families in this small but significant way. One community partner 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!’”

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