ELBA’s biggest ever Toy Appeal!

 In Community, News

Since its humble beginnings as a collection of toys under someone’s desk, the ELBA Toy Appeal has grown and grown. The 2017 appeal was no different and saw an incredible 10,046 toys donated. Roughly equating to £120,000 in value and smashing last year’s total, making it the biggest Toy Appeal yet!

Each toy is donated by an individual from a company that ELBA works with. In these financially uncertain times when everyone is feeling the pinch, it’s uplifting to see the generosity of people who have spared a thought for someone less fortunate than themselves.

With the toys donated, ELBA was able to support more community organisations than ever before. There were 53 community organisations across east London and Islington that received toys this year. These organisations include food banks, children’s centres, refugee services, domestic abuse shelters, hospital wards, primary schools and community centres. All work with families that may not otherwise be able to afford a present for their children at Christmas time.

This small act of giving a gift can make a profound impact in the life of a child. One of the support workers at Hestia, a charity that supports victims of domestic abuse, described the significance of receiving a toy at Christmas:

“For a child who has left everything behind, having just a single toy to call their own means the world. The most important thing, however, is that this toy has been given to them. A stranger, whom they will never meet, has shown kindness and care (two things that our children here have very little experience of). A gift, given at Christmas, will make them start to realise that the world isn’t such a bad place after all. And that, in my opinion, is the start to their journey to recovery.

As well as the children that receive the toys, the appeal also helps the parents who may be struggling financially. We all know that Christmas can be an expensive time of year but for people living below the breadline, buying presents is not a priority. One parent spoke with her key worker after receiving gifts for her three children:

“She was crying and said that we had ‘saved Christmas’ as she was terrified of not being able to make Christmas special for her children and felt she was massively letting them down. With the toy appeal we were able to give her gifts and made her feel worthy – therefore a complete transformation.

With such a large and wide reaching operation, ELBA could not deliver the Toy Appeal without the support of the companies that we work with. This year, donations came from companies that have worked with ELBA for many years including Credit Suisse, Macquarie Group, MUFG and also companies that got involved with the Toy Appeal for the first time such as Deloitte, Cooley LLP and Situs.

UBS, the largest donor to the Toy Appeal, kicked things off in November with a Toy Dash to Oxford Street and Westfield Stratford. Volunteers went to a variety of stores to buy presents with vouchers that had been donated to the appeal. These toys, along with those donated via the ELBA gift lists, were then sorted and wrapped by UBS volunteers. Overall, UBS engaged hundreds of volunteers and contributed approximately a quarter of the toys donated to the appeal!

At the beginning of December, ELBA moved into our “Grotto” where donations of toys were delivered, sorted and then packed up for collection. Over two weeks, volunteers from a variety of companies came to help including employees from HSBC, RPC and Rubicon Estates. All the volunteers were enthusiastic and got stuck in with any tasks they were given. It was also great to see people who had volunteered in previous years return to the “Grotto.” One of the volunteers talked about their experience:

“The day was great and very rewarding. I was involved for the first time and was amazed at how many companies are involved and how many organisations you provide gifts to. It is quite a sobering thought that for many of the recipients, this could be the only present they receive.

During these two weeks, ELBA also organised another Toy Dash in partnership with Westfield Stratford City. Click here to read about this.

Christmas is a special time for many people. While a toy won’t fix the problems or circumstances a family may be facing, it does provide a small piece of hope. The generosity and goodwill of people this year has meant that the Toy Appeal can reach more people than ever before. We are incredibly grateful, and so too are the organisations, families and children that received a gift. Thank you.

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