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Irishman who organised Christmas presents for 300 children launches new toy appeal

'I have seen first-hand the difference this has made and the generosity of people has been brilliant'
Stephen, Rachel and Lilé Given delivering to The Hive Youth Zone in 2020.

Stephen, Rachel and Lilé Given delivering to The Hive Youth Zone in 2020.

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A kind-hearted Irishman who raised £7,000 in the UK last year to buy Christmas gifts for more than 300 children who otherwise would have gone without is repeating his toy appeal again this year.

Donegal man Stephen Given, an Operations Director for the civil engineering firm Pod-Trak, which was founded by fellow Donegal man Paul O’Donnell, was inspired to launch the appeal last year after listening to his daughter talking about her Christmas list for Santa.

With the support of colleagues Mr Given launched the Making a Christmas to Remember Toy Appeal in November 2020, inviting people to “donate a gift to a child that might go without one this year”.

The Manchester-based firm accepted toy and cash donations for weeks, before collating the gifts they had accumulated in the run up to Christmas.

“Following the huge success of our Toy Appeal last Christmas we are launching it again this year to help children wake up to presents on Christmas morning that may otherwise have nothing,” Mr Given told The Irish Post this week.

“When I had the idea ahead of Christmas 2020 I didn't think that we would help over 300 children with over £7,000 worth of toys which is a credit to everyone who supported us,” he added.

“I have seen first-hand the difference this has made and the generosity of people has been brilliant.”

Mr Given had previously explained how the idea came to him as he was listening to his daughter talking to her cousin Daithí on facetime

“They were talking about their Christmas letters to Santa and what they would like this year and the more I thought about it I just realised so many children this year probably face the prospect of having nothing to open on Christmas morning.”

He added: “I just felt I needed to do something about that, it’s been a tough year for everyone already, especially for children.”

They eventually secured donations worth £7,000 and delivered gifts to over 300 children.

This year, Mr Given’s Toy Appeal will work with Manchester Youth Zone, The Hive Wirral Youth Zone and Young Ealing Foundation to distribute the gifts to those children in need.

For 2021 they are also supporting Ealing Christmas Dinners – an organisation which gives young adults who grew up in foster care or children’s homes a place to enjoy Christmas day along with other people.

“Young people in care are often isolated and lonely at this time of year with little or no one to spend the holidays with,” the organisation explains.

The Toy Appeal is now open for donations – which can be dropped off at Pod-Trak’s Manchester and London depots or funds can be donated to the appeal via PayPal where 100 per cent of the money raised will be used to purchase presents for the children.

Closing date for toy donations is December 17, while funding donations can be accepted until December 21.

All the toys will be distributed in time for Christmas through the campaign’s appeal partners.

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