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Christmas Toy Appeal: Generous Indie readers 'save Christmas' for 125 families and over 300 children in need




More than 300 children who would otherwise have missed out on a present will be unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning thanks to big-hearted Indie readers.

The Bishop’s Stortford community rallied to a cry from the town’s Salvation Army by donating a grotto full of toys to rival Santa’s and pledged enough cash to provide a festive feast for 125 families in need.

Four weeks ago, when the Indie backed the corps’ Christmas Toy Appeal, Captain Megan Kervin feared that her target of helping 54 families and over 100 children was unattainable against the backdrop of coronavirus, which stopped her usual annual calendar of fundraising events and shut shops in November as she launched the project.

Capt Megan Kervin at the Salvation Army shop in South Street with items ready to start the Christmas Toy Appeal. Picture: Vikki Lince (43656085)
Capt Megan Kervin at the Salvation Army shop in South Street with items ready to start the Christmas Toy Appeal. Picture: Vikki Lince (43656085)

But in the end, she was able to support many more of those across East Herts in dire need this December and, along with her team, has begun the mammoth task of delivering gifts and goodies in time for the big day.

She said: “How could I not express my gratitude and appreciation to our hugely generous community!

“When we first committed to running the appeal this year I spoke to one of our retired Salvation Army officers in the town and expressed my concern about how we could gather all we needed this year with everything closed.

The Indie launched the Christmas Toy Appeal, in association with Bishop's Stortford Salvation Army, on November 25
The Indie launched the Christmas Toy Appeal, in association with Bishop's Stortford Salvation Army, on November 25

“She very faithfully stated ‘You say this every year but the Lord always provides’ – and He did! Through the kindness and thoughtfulness and love of our town, we have done bigger parcels for more families than ever before.”

Over the past month, the Indie’s North Street office has been a staging post for an ever-growing pile of presents, despite regular collections by Megan and her team.

She said: “We're grateful to St Joseph’s and St Michael’s (churches) who willingly offered us use of the Windhill Churches Centre as our top-secret Santa's grotto.

“The room we used was filled and emptied time and time again as toys came in and sacks went out – literally bulging! Often three or four sacks per family too. The volunteers were as amazed as I was at the amount and quality of the gifts.”

Captain Megan Kervin, of the Salvation Army, with James Moore, general manager of Genmar IT, which donated 16 refurbished computer tablets to our Christmas Toy Appeal. Picture: Vikki Lince (43656075)
Captain Megan Kervin, of the Salvation Army, with James Moore, general manager of Genmar IT, which donated 16 refurbished computer tablets to our Christmas Toy Appeal. Picture: Vikki Lince (43656075)

As well as individuals, businesses dug deep to help too, with 16 refurbished and repackaged tablets handed over by Genmar IT and confectionery from The Loft Storage Room Company, which employs 18 staff at the Maltings in Sawbridgeworth.

A Just Giving page added more than £10,600 to the toy appeal coffers.

Megan said: “Because of the financial generosity of the cash, cheque and online donations and Bishop's Stortford Food Bank’s usual support, we were also able to send vouchers or food parcels to all of the families identified by the workers.

Capt Megan Kervin at the Salvation Army shop in South Street with items ready to start the Christmas Toy Appeal. Picture: Vikki Lince (43656085)
Capt Megan Kervin at the Salvation Army shop in South Street with items ready to start the Christmas Toy Appeal. Picture: Vikki Lince (43656085)

“Every worker or family who collected or we delivered to were thrilled to receive the gifts and the food – there were tears of joy and the feeling that ‘Christmas was saved’.

“This obviously has a far deeper meaning for us as a church, but for all in the community, all who gave and supported, you have pulled together to ‘save Christmas’ and help over 125 families and bring gifts to over 300 children this Christmas.

“Christmas 2020, the year everything stopped – except love, joy and hope.”



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