SPREADING a little hope and happiness to local families living in need is at the heart of a new project by the Gateway Church.

The group has decided to launch a toy appeal in hope of bringing smiles to the faces of dozens of youngsters whose parents cannot afford to buy Christmas presents.

Gateway is asking charitable individuals, groups and organisations for donations of new toys for those aged 0-16.

Then families will be invited to a Christmas event at their shop, The Gate, in Havelock Square on Thursday (Dec 14) between 5pm and 9pm where they will be treated to a light buffet and will be able to choose a gift for each of their children and wrap it up ready for Christmas Day.

“There are many families who struggle at Christmas and either can’t buy any presents or have to resort to loans to do so,” said Dawn Prosser, who is helping to co-ordinate the toy appeal.

“The agencies we work with through Gateway Furniture - which is part of Gateway Church and provides furniture to people in need - are nominating families and it’s a great opportunity to remind them that they’re loved and valued.”

There has already been a lot of interest in the inaugural toy appeal and Businesswise, a local business referral group who already support Gateway Furniture, have generously raised money for the appeal amongst its members, which is being matched by Businesswise itself.

Dawn added that the group is still accepting last-minute donations, particularly ones for older children.

“Even though it has been quite small since it was launched we have already managed to get a few toys," she said.

Donations can be taken to The Gate shop in Havelock Square before Monday (Dec 11).

Anyone wishing to donate toys for the appeal, all location points for donations and toy suggestions can be found on their website gatewaychurchswindon.org.uk/toy-appeal.