Return to the Coppice

This Christmas, families all over the Island tucked in to a traditional dinner, unwrapped gifts and spent valuable time with their families.


But, while lots of people enjoyed a typical Christmas, many Island youngsters didn’t celebrate like the rest of us. Children facing sickness, bereavement, poverty and crisis often go without over Christmas. In a bid to provide these children with a little joy at Christmas time, the Isle of Wight Christmas Toy Appeal was born.
First started in 2011 by husband and wife team, Deborah and Daniel Rooke, the appeal set out to provide a gift for children who would otherwise go without.
Now powered by Isle of Wight Radio, the appeal reaches out to local people, asking them to donate new, unwrapped gifts to various drop-off points located Islandwide. Donated toys are then sorted into appropriate age groups, wrapped by volunteers and distributed, ready to be opened on Christmas Day.
The toy appeal works alongside local charities and organisations to make sure donations reach the children who need them most. These children may be located through St Mary’s Hospital, The Foodbank, The Children’s Society, Beaulieu House, Homestart, The Women’s Refuge, Spurgeons, Daisy Chain, Barnardos and YMCA Young Carers, to name a few.
A recent National Children’s Bureau study discovered more than 7,500 Isle of Wight children are living below the poverty line. Over the past eight years, this rewarding appeal has raised a smile for more than 15,000 families – with every toy donated staying right here on the Island.
Founders Daniel and Deborah Rooke, said: “The Isle of Wight Radio Christmas Toy Appeal has become an integral part of Christmas for so many.  We always wished, when we started the appeal, that it would become a tradition that would carry on for all the time that it was needed.  It was important to us that it was a local appeal, benefiting local people and that’s why all donations stay on the Island.
“The appeal is made up of a wide network of volunteers, who are collecting, distributing and wrapping – and of course, Isle of Wight Radio who have powered the most recent appeal.  But the appeal would ultimately be nothing without the amazing generosity of the Island. For us, through the mountain of wrapping paper, sellotape and chaos, our gift is that feeling the appeal has brought the Island together, if only for a few short days.
“We remain astonished and so very grateful for the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Island.”
Many businesses, organisations and locals also found other ways to help the appeal this year, with fundraising events going on around the Island to raise money to buy gifts. Businesses which pledged their support for the appeal in 2018 include Bestival, Vestas, 1Leisure, BAE Systems, Hampshire and IW Police, Visit IW, Garlic Farm, Wightlink, Red Funnel, Vectis Ventures, JR Zone, West Wight Sports Centre and many more.

The Children’s Ward at St Mary’s Hospital said: “To everyone at the Isle of Wight Christmas Toy Appeal, thank you all so

much for the amazing presents you have kindly given us for the children in hospital for Christmas. It made Christmas morning very exciting.”

Staff and residents at the IW Homelessness Services said: “We would like to express our thanks to the Isle of Wight Christmas Toy Appeal for supplying our residents with presents for their children.  It has been very much appreciated once again this year and I am sure will make a huge difference to the children who will receive them.”
Daisy Chains IW said: “We wanted to write and thank you for the wonderful support you have given us this year, which allowed us to provide all our families with Christmas presents. We have had so many messages of thanks for you from all of the families. It really made a difference to their Christmas.”
Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, organisers, businesses and charitable
Island residents, a record 2,400 children were given a gift this Christmas!
By Richard Knowles

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