Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Witton Lodge Community Association
Over the festive season, local residents sent out over 300 presents to families and children in Perry Common – donated and distributed through the Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) Christmas Gifts Appeal.
To help fight the hardship many have been facing this year, and to help every child in Perry Common wake up to a gift on Christmas morning, in November last year WLCA began asking friends and neighbours to clear out their cupboards and donate unwanted or forgotten toys.
Donation boxes were established at the Witton Lakes Eco Hub, Perry Common Community Hall, Sycamore Court, and the Health and Wellbeing Hub on Erdington High Street – with kind hearted people from all across Erdington leaving good-as-new toys and gifts.
Local groups also joined in on the seasonal charity drive, with members of the Slimming World club that meet twice a week at Highcroft Community Centre also donating ‘anything they could spare’ to the Christmas Gifts Appeal.
Staff from WLCA and a team of local elves (volunteers) then set about wrapping everything in time for Christmas Day and delivering the presents across the Perry Common community.
In total, over 300 gifts were sent out to families – including boxed games for children, cuddly toys, and clothes to keep you warm over the winter months.
One local woman and grandmother, Jane Gaskin, donated over 20 gifts to the Christmas Gifts Appeal, with people responding by recognising her goodwill as “a Christmas miracle” and how she “always have had a heart of gold”.
Her daughter, Naomi Smith, added: “Well done mom, I’m glad you have been able to help some families who may need it this Christmas, and that the cupboard under the stairs is no longer a death trap of toys waiting to bury me and the cats!”
Jane Gaskin responded: “I don’t know about Christmas miracle I just don’t think kids should go without and if I can help I will.”
Over the festive season, the team at WLCA also put together 100 ‘Winter Warmer packs’ to help older residents fight the fuel crisis and stay safe and warm this winter – as well as organising a special ‘free festive lunch’ for local volunteers, in partnership with the Aston Vila Foundation.
WLCA further supported Wilson Stuart School as their pupils made a special visit to the Witton Lakes Eco Hub to get into the festive spirit by decorating the community centre’s Christmas tree.
A spokesperson from WLCA said: “We would like to send a massive heartfelt thankyou to EVERYONE who donated toys and gifts to our Christmas Gift Appeal.
“We have been overwhelmed with the kindness of local residents whose generosity will allow us to bring festive cheer to families and children in need.”
Steve Sharma, WLCA Communications and Marketing Coordinator, added: “The generosity of local residents supporting our Christmas Gifts Appeal has been overwhelming. Thanks to them, families who are struggling will wake up with gifts for their children on Christmas Day. It really does showcase community spirit at its best.
“Our volunteers have also been magnificent, putting the Winter Warmer packs together and distributing them to the elderly and vulnerable.
“A special mention must also go to pupils from Wilson Stuart School who visited the Witton Lakes Eco Hub to decorate our Christmas Tree and did such a brilliant job.”
For more on Witton Lodge Community Association, visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk