TRIBUTE has been paid to the community for its "overwhelming" support of Keighley Salvation Army's Be a Star festive toy and food appeal.

Businesses, organisations and individuals across the town rallied round to back the annual initiative, which aims to ensure that no child goes without a gift – nor low-income families without food – at Christmas.

Each year, the High Street church and charity appeals for donations of unwrapped gifts for distribution to families that would otherwise have little or nothing to open on Christmas Day, and collects foodstuffs for those struggling to make ends meet.

The 2023 initiative saw a team of volunteers wrap more than 1,200 toys, for over 450 children in Keighley and surrounding areas.

Penny Southgate, manager at the Keighley Salvation Army centre, says: "A heartfelt 'thank you' goes to everyone who donated to our appeal – your generosity has made such a difference to hundreds of families and brought smiles to the faces of so many children.

"The response to the 2023 appeal was one of the most overwhelming yet, with a massive outpouring of community spirit – whether that was by way of donations of toys, money or time. Our wonderful volunteers prepared over 200 food parcels as well as wrapping the 1,200-plus toys which were then delivered by a team of drivers. We would not be able to do all this without our staff members and volunteers.

"We received donations from individuals, groups, businesses, churches and organisations. We were supported by Dunelm's gift appeal, Sovereign Health Care, Bowcocks Trust Fund, Platinum Stairlifts, Taylor's on the Green, Acorn Stairlifts, Spellman Care, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Aldi in Silsden, to name but a few!

"We were able to support other local organisations with donations of toys too, such as Ma Kelly's Kitchen, Project 6 and Ilkley Foodbank.

"There is great strength and compassion embedded within our community, and the response to the appeal made a significant impact on the lives of those in need and brought delight to countless children.

"We are grateful to the general public for its fantastic support, which enabled us to spread the message of love and joy to the community."

Keighley Salvation Army runs a number of activities including a toddler group, food support, a charity shop, cafe and Sunday worship.

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Planned additions to the programme for 2024 include cooking sessions and family meals.