‘TIS the season of giving and the people of Swindon have spent the festive season focusing on fundraising and helping the less fortunate.

In a huge team effort to ensure that everyone can have a merry Christmas, many neighbours and businesses have chipped in to provide gifts and meals which will put a smile on the faces of those who are going through a tough time. 

An impressive amount of goodwill and generosity has brightened the lives of hundreds of children and vulnerable people around the town, spreading some much-needed Christmas cheer at the end of a difficult year.

Women assisted by the Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service will have a reason to be cheerful tomorrow as the charity’s team delivered presents to their homes after another successful annual appeal

A service spokeswoman said: “We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of our community again this year. Our present donation weekend at the Orbital Asda was a great success, and Justin Tomlinson kindly agreed to continue to collect gifts at his office for us.

“Volunteers from the Hindu Samaj wrapped gifts for us, and we had generous donations of food and other gifts from individuals and businesses from in and around Swindon.

“Everyone deserves a safe, happy and relaxed Christmas, and everyone’s generosity has meant that all of our residents, children and clients in the community have some wonderful gifts to enjoy this year.

“When families come into refuge they have to leave so much behind and the gifts they receive at Christmas mean so much to them.

“Kind donations of money have enabled our children and young people team to organise lots of fun activities for our families in refuge and it has been fantastic to see the 36 children we have staying with us having such a wonderful time.”

The Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal will give gifts to more than 900 children

The Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal will give gifts to more than 900 children

Churches all over the borough brought back the Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal to bring a little hope and happiness to mums and dads who would find it difficult to afford presents for their children without resorting to taking out loans.

They cheer up more children each year - first 350, then 700 last year, and now a whopping 930 youngsters will each receive three presents.

Gifts were either donated or bought by the team with some of the money fundraised - £5,600 from donations and £1,500 from the Wiltshire Community Foundation.

Piles of books, games, toys, and other treats were arranged into sacks, labelled and dropped off around Swindon with wrapping paper and sellotape.

Dawn Prosser from The Gateway Church said: “It required an incredible amount of planning, people were working dawn to dusk to get everything ready, it was a real challenge, but it went really well.

"The presents are in lots of different categories for different ages, so it’s like a proper elf workshop here with around 200 volunteers.

"Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen.”

Reece Chaplin and his fiancée Stephanie Childs with the donated gifts for their Christmas appeal

Reece Chaplin and his fiancée Stephanie Childs with the donated gifts for their Christmas appeal

Former Adver reporter Reece Chaplin and his fiancée Stephanie Childs supported the Gateway appeal with their own efforts and raised £2,770 in just two weeks to buy boxes full of toys.

They were supported by Gustoso, Rove's Farm, Save On Tyres, Guy's Barbershop, Emerald Doors and Windows, and The Entertainer.

Reece said: “We've been very lucky, I was blown away by the support. The aim was to bring people together to do their bit for the community, and to help disadvantaged families feel special and have a great Christmas.

"I fell ill earlier in the year but just because I have had a setback does not mean we can't help others, it shouldn't be a domino effect.

"We only had two weeks to get it all together and I thought businesses would say 'sorry, it's too late' but they were really helpful.

"I delivered some of the sacks of presents, it was amazing and heartwarming to see the looks on children's faces.

"It makes all the extra hours and effort worth it, and I want to do more in the new year."

Don Bryden and Paul Rogers with the donated meals and presents for the BEST Christmas appeal

Don Bryden and Paul Rogers with the donated meals and presents for the BEST Christmas appeal

Stratton business KCJ Training and Employment Solutions delivered dozens of Christmas dinner ingredients and presents to families in need through the company’s charity BEST: Be A Better You, with help from the Swindon Scrapstore and The Bank.

Manager Don Bryden said: “Last year, we fed 50-odd families and this year we’ve helped around 90. After what’s happened with Covid, all the redundancies and businesses closing, I’ve seen people who really battling to survive, which is where this idea came from.

“I wanted to make sure that when we’re sitting down for Christmas dinner, other families had the turkey, the Yorkshire pud, the sprouts, the potatoes, everything they needed as well.

“We’ve already done some deliveries and there are people in Swindon who are really struggling but I hope this puts a smile on their face.

“All the profits we make at KCJ will be put back into the community.”

Schools helped the team at BEST - Don, Craig Hiscock, Paul Rogers, Matt West, Steve McRae - and KCJ colleagues Christopher, Kristin, Sarah, Jess, Agnes, Victor and Alicia identify families who would benefit most from these donations.

From all of us here at the Adver, we hope our readers have a very merry and safe Christmas.