Christmas Toy Appeal: Make sure they have a happy Christmas
TWINS Henri and Seth Kosturczak were two of the 13,000 or so children in the area facing Christmas without a present.
Last year the two-year-olds' big day was saved after they received gifts from the Salvation Army's annual Toy Appeal.
Now The Sentinel has joined forces with the charity to bring festive cheer to thousands more youngsters this year.
Donated gifts will be distributed to children and teenagers of less well-off families across North Staffordshire.
Henri and Seth's mum Emma, a 35-year-old who lives in Chesterton, said: "Not every parent can afford to buy gifts for their children at Christmas. The toy appeal makes a real difference."
CHRISTMAS shoppers are being asked to pick up an extra toy to make the festive season happier for disadvantaged children.
This year's annual Salvation Army Toy Appeal is being backed by The Sentinel and Stoke-on-Trent City Council, as well as Port Vale and dozens of churches, schools and companies.
Twins Henri and Seth Kosturczak are hoping people will get behind the appeal which saw them receive special Christmas gifts last year.
The two-year-olds received presents including a mini guitar and some In The Night Garden cuddly toys.
The campaign sees donated gifts distributed to children and teenagers from less well-off families.
Henri and Seth's mum Emma Kosturczak, aged 35, of Chesterton, attends a lone parent group held at the Salvation Army's Chesterton branch, which meant they were chosen to receive presents.
Stay-at-home mum Emma, who also has two daughters, Caitlin, aged 14, and nine-year-old Bethany, said: "It can be hard being on your own, you have good days and bad days.
"It is challenging to meet all the children's needs, but coming to the group is a big support.
"I know there are people worse off than me but it does really help with Christmas and the kids really enjoyed the presents last year.
"Not every parent can afford to buy gifts for their children."
Last year the charity collected 13,242 toys and gifts, which were given to children across North Staffordshire.
This year the appeal is supported by a number of businesses including The Sentinel, npower and Churchill China.
Carol Clarke's disabled son Ethan has benefited from the campaign for several years. The 10-year-old has behavioural and mobility problems and mother-of-three Carol, also from Chesterton, receives valuable support from the Salvation Army's lone parent group.
The 47-year-old, who is a carer for her son, said: "I've had some bad years where without the Toy Appeal Christmas wouldn't have been very good for Ethan.
"I would encourage people to get behind the appeal. There are children out there who don't get anything for Christmas and even a small gift is something for them to open on Christmas morning. It is really appreciated."
All the presents donated to the appeal must be new, good quality and suitable for children aged from birth up to 16 years old.
Collected toys will be wrapped and distributed in time to be opened on Christmas morning.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is also supporting the campaign and donations can be left at the Civic Centre, Swann House, Swift House, Gordon House, Contact Centre and Stoke One Stop Shop.
City Council leader Councillor Mohammed Pervez said: "We are delighted that, once again, we are supporting this very important appeal.
"This year has been tough for many in the area, but I am always amazed by the generosity of the public, as well as all of the schools, companies and organisations which donate to the appeal."
Stoke-on-Trent Lord Mayor, Councillor Terry Crowe, added: "This is a fantastic appeal which can help to make a big difference on Christmas morning."
Retailer Smyths Toys picked its 10 best-selling children's presents, with a total value of more than £500, which will be donated to the Toy Appeal.
Smyths Toys opened its store on the Phoenix Retail Park, Longton, in May, creating around 30 jobs.
The toy list includes a £54.99 Furby, £39.97 Skylanders: Giants, £129.99 MEEP! Children's Computer Tablet and £54.99 LEGO Super Heroes: Batman Batcave.
The retailer also ran a competition this month to give the same top 10 toys away to a lucky Sentinel reader and the winner will be revealed next month.
Richard Bowyer, deputy editor of The Sentinel, said: "It is incredibly sad, that at one of the happiest times of year, some children will be left distraught because they will not receive any toys on Christmas Day. This must be both devastating and traumatic for them.
"We want to ensure that, with the help of the Salvation Army and city council, those children who wouldn't normally experience the joy of opening a present on Christmas Day will receive a gift this year.
"We want to make their Christmas extra special and hope people across the Potteries donate a toy to the appeal."