Colin Grainger

A special kind of giving as Toy Appeal spreads Christmas joy

EVERY year for the last 38 years I have been part of a campaign in the community in East London to help with a very special appeal to spread come much needed joy to under-privileged children.

And I am happy to report on this lovely morning that the Community Links and Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal has reached its target of 15,000 toys – an incredible achievement.

It has taken much hard work from everyone involved in Community Links and  also in the community in Newham.

I am glad to say that a special kind of caring is still very much alive and well in East London. The kindness and generous shown has helped change the lives of some young ones who would otherwise have lost out.

The Community Links and Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal is an appeal at the heart of all that is good in the community in East London.

This year I made the request for help not from the columns of the paper that was part of my life for over 40 years but from my own website and Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

The paper I edited for many years and Links joined up again for the campaign to reach out to thousands of vulnerable children, families and adults.

Links is a truly remarkable organisation which does so much to enhance life in East London. I am honoured to be associated with it, as an ambassador. This year we have launched a Friends Group to help raise money for their vital work. They have lost millions in vital funding due to local and national government cutbacks.

Many youngsters who benefited from campaigns years ago are now workers or volunteers at Links. It is a philosophy that has stood the test of time: helping and enabling people to help themselves. Celebrities Ricky Grover and Perry Fenwick added their weight to the campaign.

The festive spirit shone brightly locally. The generous donations made have ensured there are presents for the children who need them the most.

Construction workers at the Olympic Stadium who are readying the site for West Ham United’s made a massive donation of toys for underprivileged youngsters in Newham.

They were joined in their quest by other employees of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, who between them managed to collect 1,800 presents – smashing last year’s record donation of 1,500 toys.

To prevent the toys from being damaged by the construction work, they were kept in two large crates before staff opened them in front of representatives from Community Links, revealing the full extent of their generosity.

David Goldstone, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “It’s great to see all of the toys that people have so generously donated. We’re proud to support Community Links and the great work they do in Newham.”

“It’s brilliant,” said Community Links co-founder and life president Kevin Jenkins, who also received a cheque for £5,000. “It’s such a lot.”

Links and the Recorder have and will say their own special thank yous to some remarkable people.

There was a lot of talk about the Olympic legacy when we were the centre of the world in 2012. I am sure no-one envisaged how this different kind of legacy would truly show how kindness and generosity and community spirit can come together.

As a patron of the appeal I want to say thank you 15,000 times over for helping the appeal reach its target.

It really does show the world that spirit of giving really is alive and well in our special part of the planet.

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Featured pic: The Olympic Park heroes hand over some of their gifts

Above top : Kevin Jenkins accepts a cheque last week at the park.

Above: Myself, Perry, Paula Blake and Ricky

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