For 30 years, Belfast Central Mission (BCM) has been collecting and distributing toys and gifts for children and young people at Christmas. Due to shared aims and consistent growth in recent years, the toy appeal has joined forces with the annual Giving Tree appeal, so to deepen the impact for families. St Vincent de Paul NI work in tandem to support the same families in need with cost-of-living help during the festive season. The Department for Communities is also a long-time supporter of the initiative, providing collection centres, fundraising and volunteers to drive the toy appeal. In 2022, the toy appeal distributed over 4,200 gift parcels across Belfast and Northern Ireland and is keen to exceed that for the 2023 appeal.
Nicky Conway, CEO of Belfast Central Mission commented;
“We know that this year is going to be difficult for a lot more people due to the rising cost of living, and we are already receiving calls for help ahead of Christmas. That is why we are determined to grow our reach to 5000 people for Christmas 2023. We appeal to the public to get involved at a local level, by donating in whatever way people can. Many actively purchase toys for the various collection venues, but financial support also goes a long way towards supporting families in need at a very expensive time of year. Volunteers are what make this annual appeal so special, and we urge anyone interested in giving back this Christmas to get in touch”.
Mary Waide, Regional President of St Vincent de Paul for the North Region, said:
“We all know how important it is to experience the wonder of Christmas. A time of year for giving those who are faced with impossible choices the dignity and choice to celebrate Christmas in the most special way. Last year SVP spent £5m in assistance to families and individuals living in poverty and this is made possible by the generous donations that the Society receives. Relationships like that of Belfast Central Mission and Department for Communities help us to deliver help right into the heart of local communities across the Region at Christmas, when a voucher can help a dad buy the gift the child has asked Santa for or help mum put the Christmas dinner on the table. We are grateful for your continued dedication in supporting our Christmas Appeal.”
As part of its longstanding affiliation with the Department for Communities, the BCM Toy Appeal relies on the generosity of gifts, cash donations and time given by DfC volunteers during the appeal’s busiest two weeks in December.
Colum Boyle, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities, said:
“We are delighted again to have this opportunity to continue our partnership with Belfast Central Mission and St Vincent de Paul in support of the annual ‘Giving Tree’ Appeal. Each year our teams in offices across Northern Ireland look forward to joining together to donate toys and gifts for children in our local communities in the hope that as many children as possible will have a smile on their face this Christmas morning.”
Members of the public can donate to the appeal by visiting www.justgiving.com/campaign/givingtree23
All money raised by the Giving tree campaign is split evenly to purchase toys and food/ utilities vouchers, and is dispensed to families identified through a multi-agency approach.
Those interested in donating toys directly or for volunteering can find out more at www.belfastcentralmission.org. Information includes how and where to take gifts, as well as volunteering opportunities this time around. For 2023, volunteer drivers are especially needed to pick up batches of gifts from various collection sites during mid-December.
Enquiries can also be made via telephone on 07706 352905.