West Ham youngsters swap boots for bears to help Salvation Army present appeal

published on 19 Dec 2018

On Monday (17 December), a squad from West Ham United’s under-23s ditched their football boots for the day to donate bags full of toys and teddy bears to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Present Appeal. The young men have been busy buying gifts that will be given to children who might otherwise not receive a present on Christmas Day.

Rising West Ham football star, Oladapo Afolyan, 21, said: “It’s always good to give back to kids who are in an unfortunate position, to help people who aren’t in such a nice position as us. All the boys are happy to do it, there was a little competition going on as to who could get the best toy! Everyone goes out and buys toys. It’s always nice to help out.”

There to receive the gifts on behalf of children, was Territorial Commander for The Salvation Army in the UK, Anthony Cotterill. He thanked the team, saying: “You all give a lot of enjoyment to people through your skills, through your football, but you also made a decision to make a difference to people. With your help, all of these toys are going to bring joy and smiles to kids’ faces on Christmas Day. I want to say thank you to you, for taking some time out, to give in this way, it’s deeply appreciated. On behalf of the kids that will get these presents, we say thank you.”

The Salvation Army’s Early Years Operations Manager, Andrea Burn, explained where the presents will be heading. She said: “Within The Salvation Army we have a number of nurseries, preschools, breakfast clubs and after school clubs. The toys given today by the players will be going two nurseries in the South-East area of England, which has areas of real deprivation.”

In what has become a tradition for West Ham’s younger squad, Andrea explained what a difference last year’s donated toys made to the Christmas Appeal: “You wouldn’t believe the impact that you had on families and the children; we were able to distribute them to places like our contact centres, where children from families where parents have split for example, come to spend time with a parent or family member they don’t live with. Your gift is amazing and I just want to say thank you, because it’s such a great thing you’ve done.”

The Salvation Army works throughout the year to provide compassionate support, a listening ear and practical help to people who are vulnerable or in need. Go to Christmas Present Appeal for more information.