COFFEE lovers are playing Santa for disadvantaged children this Christmas.

Children's charity Barnardo’s has teamed up with Starbucks staff to serve up a special treat for the families it is supporting in Swindon and Wiltshire.

The coffee chain's branches in the outlet designer village and the Brunel Shopping Centre have already received nearly a hundred donations of gifts from customers.

“It is a wonderful scheme and we are very proud to be taking part in helping a charity like Barnardo’s so that children can wake up to presents on a day that should be magical for them," said town centre branch supervisor Joanita Monteiro. “We have had a tremendous amount of support from our customers whether that be through donations or intrigue about what we are doing – people stop and take notice. The generosity from people in this town never fails to amaze me.”

Customers pick a card off the Christmas tree and then donate a gift suitable for the child whose gender and age appear on it. The collection runs until December 14 when presents will be delivered to Barnardo’s to be wrapped and distributed to children, young people and their families.

Barnardo’s regional relationships manager Julie Kemp said the support was wonderful.“It’s a great way to remind vulnerable and disadvantaged families that they’re not alone and that people are thinking of them this Christmas.

“Hopefully the presents will create lots of happy smiles and fond memories for children and young people across the region.”

Joanne Jamil, a customer who donated presents, said: “I think it is a brilliant idea, no child should have to wake up on Christmas morning the most magical time of the year to nothing.

“It also takes some of the stress away from struggling families. I would encourage everyone to donate, essentially you are making someone’s Christmas.”

The scheme, which is in its third year, will work alongside the charity's Wiltshire Short Breaks service which aims to increase opportunities for under 18s with additional needs. Activities include swimming, shopping, sports, music and trips to the cinema.

Staff from 13 Starbucks stores in the south west aim to beat their previous record of 2,000 gifts.

District manager for the Magic Bean Company, which has the franchise for the Swindon stores, Simon Betreen, said: “Christmas can be a stressful time for parents with financial difficulties and we don’t want to see children going without.

“We hope customers will be generous in supporting our campaign to purchase gifts for families who might otherwise struggle to celebrate such a special occasion.”