AN annual toy appeal has been launched to ensure several hundred disadvantaged Keighley youngsters get a present this Christmas.

The initiative is being spearheaded by the town’s Salvation Army.

Backing is being provided by the Keighley News, Sainsbury’s supermarket and Argos.

The appeal will benefit up to 350 children, who would otherwise receive no presents on Christmas Day.

Donated toys must be new, and should be suitable for children and young people – boys and girls – up to the age of 16.

People are asked not to wrap them.

All the donated gifts will then be sorted, wrapped and distributed to families on December 21.

Children are nominated by Keighley schools, family centres, and agencies dealing with issues such as domestic violence.

Toys can be taken to the Salvation Army, in High Street, between 10am and 2pm Mondays to Thursdays; to the Sainsbury’s store, in Cavendish Street, Keighley, or to the Argos outlet in the Airedale Shopping Centre.

The appeal has got off to a bumper start.

Sainsbury’s has already received donations and has added a food box, through its Help to Brighten a Million Christmases initiative – which, as an expansion to the company’s year-round foodbank scheme, helps partner charities distribute items to communities over the festive season.

And keen runner – and regular supporter of the appeal – Chris Elrick has again given his backing, donating a pile of teddies.

It is the third year that stairlift engineer Chris, with the support of colleagues at Platinum Stairlifts, has collected teddies through his running exploits.

Chris Bown, community manager at Keighley Salvation Army, said support for the appeal was always outstanding and she hoped the public would once again get behind it.

“We’ve run the appeal for many years now and the backing from the town is always fantastic,” she added.

“People are so generous – it is wonderful.

“The appeal has got off to a great start.

“We’re extremely grateful to Chris for his support once again, and to his company.

“Sainsbury’s, as always, is being so supportive and a big thank-you too to the Argos store for providing a collection point.”

Keighley Salvation Army is staging a Christmas fair on Saturday, November 30, from 11am to 2pm, with proceeds going to the appeal.

Items for sale will include Christmas decorations, fancy and knitted goods and toiletries, and there will be handmade chocolates from The Chocolate Dinosaur. Light refreshments will be available.

Admission is free.