Players from West Ham United’s Academy have donated dozens of toys to The Salvation Army this Christmas to distribute to children who could otherwise not receive a single gift.
Players and staff from the Academy which includes players in the under 21 teams to under 9s donated presents to the Church and charity’s Christmas present appeal and visited their headquarters in Newington Causeway, London on Thursday (December 17) to hand over the gifts.
Lewis Page, 19, from Bishop’s Stortford, who plays for the under 21s and has played in the first team, said: “We all said we would buy something for the kids. I wanted to give back to the children. We are lucky enough to be where we are and it is good to be able to make them happy.”
Kyle Knoyle, 19, from Plaistow, who also plays for the under 21s, said: “I feel it is for a great cause. We are very fortunate so it is great to come back down to earth and give back to the kids who aren’t as fortunate as you.”
Commissioner Clive Adams, head of The Salvation Army in the UK and Republic of Ireland, was on hand to receive the donations. He said: “It’s wonderful to see children’s faces light up when they open their Christmas presents. The Christmas story inspires us as a Church and charity to care for people who are vulnerable or in need during the festive season as well as all year round. We want to ensure that no child goes without a present this Christmas and so we are very grateful to all those at West Ham United Academy for donating these generous gifts to those who need them most.”
Major Julie Pell is the church leader of Kilburn Salvation Army based in Chichester Road, London and she was also on hand to receive some of the gifts. They work with the local council, charities supporting victims of domestic violence, and through their own contacts, to distribute the toys and presents donated to children and families often in desperate need, many of whom would not receive a single gift on Christmas day if it weren’t for the appeal.
She said: “We see the difference that the presents make to the whole family and it lifts families who are often in desperate situations. It is the reality that the children have never created the problems that the families are in and many would not receive a single gift if it weren’t for the presents donated to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Present Appeal.
“The Salvation Army in Kilburn keeps a connection with the families who receive presents and we grow with them.”
One of those who has been helped by Christmas donations is Elle McConville. Elle is a former resident at The Salvation Army’s Thorndale Family Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
She said: “[It] is a Godsend. I grew up in care and often didn’t get any birthday or Christmas presents. I was left in my bedroom most of the time, which has a big impact on me now. I didn’t know what love was due to not being loved.
“About eight years ago I met Paul and now have a little girl called Brianna. When Brianna was born I contacted the social services and we were referred to Thorndale. I had my ups and downs there but with support I was able to turn things around. They were amazing, especially at Christmas time when we were given presents for Brianna.
“Paul and I have our own house now but I keep in touch with the staff and pop in every so often for a visit.”