AN APPEAL to bring a little Christmas cheer to children in Eastbourne was hit by the credit crunch with donations well down on last year.
Every year the Salvation Army in Langney Road runs a toy appeal so it can donate gifts to children less fortunate than others.
It also runs a tin appeal asking shoppers to donate food to homeless people and those in need at all the town’s superstores.
But this year organisers say although there was a great variety of tins and toys, the amount donated was lower than previous years although demand to help families in crisis continues to increase.
Pauline Peagam, Salvation Army’s community development worker, thanked all who donated but said the austere times had taken their toll.
“It certainly wasn’t as good as in previous years,” said Pauline. “It was a little disappointing but what we did get managed to make it a happier Christmas for some.”
Christmas began at the Salvation Army in early December with the annual toy run by the East Sussex Advance Motor Cyclist Club, which has now taken over and amalgamated with the Sovereign Motorcycling Club which had been organising the toy run for the last 17 years.
Club members had a good response and collected a large number of toys and Matalan also donated teddy bears as part of its own charity appeal.
Donations of food and non perishables which had been left in collection boxes in superstores across the town were sorted by volunteers the week before Christmas.
They wrapped toys and gifts for families and also make up food parcels ready for delivery later that day. They were joined by Eastbourne mayor Carolyn Heaps.
On Christmas Day a three-course Christmas dinner was provided for 45 homeless and vulnerable people and they also received Christmas boxes which had been made up by some members of the Salvation Army and members of the Beach Belles Ladies Club, who meet at the Beach Tavern, Pevensey Bay, together with customers of the pub.
Pauline said, “The clients loved their meal and were very pleased with their gifts. For a lot of them it would be the only present they received.
“Although we did not provide Christmas lunch for families this year, we were able to help three families with furniture, extra food and Christmas tree and decorations and presents at the last minute with the help of the owner of the St Omar Hotel, who used his contacts with other local hotels to source some furniture and bedding.
“Also a very generous member of the public and his wife went out of their way to ensure one of these families had everything they needed for a great Christmas.
“There are so many organisations to thank for helping the Salvation Army be able to help many people this Christmas, but a big thank you must be given to the general public for all the generous donations of tins, gifts, toys and money again this year.
“Without all this, many people would have had a very sad and lonely Christmas so we would like to thank everyone for their continuing support.”