TEESSIDERS who slept rough for the night have helped to spread some festive cheer after the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas appeal for disadvantaged local children looked set to fall foul of the recession.
The Salvation Army holds an annual appeal to help provide gifts for families in need – but the fund had suffered a slump just when demand had hit an all-time high.
But disappointment turned to celebration when a £5,000 towards toys and other gifts means many of Teesside’s most needy children and families will not go without this Christmas.
Organised by Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, nearly 100 fundraisers took part in the second Big Tees Sleepout at Middlesbrough College in November, raising £20,000 for Teesside homeless and needy.
Foundation chairman Andy Preston was joined by sleepout co-founder Joanna Wake on a visit to a Middlesbrough branch of the Salvation Army.
They handed over the £5,000 cheque and saw the toys and gifts that will the Salvation Army volunteers will deliver to families in need across Teesside.
Salvation Army coordinator Kath Callan said: “Our annual appeal was really struggling until the Philanthropic Foundation got in touch. Now the whole world is a brighter place.
“We are able to help so many more of the most needy local children as a direct result of this donation, made possible by the kindness and generosity of the good people of Teesside who put up with the cold and discomfort to sleep rough for the night.
“We have been inundated with requests for help this year so we couldn’t have fulfilled all the requests without the help of the Foundation and those who slept rough. In fact, it has inspired us to sign up for the next sleep out!”
After seeing the gifts being wrapped by a team of volunteers, Andy Preston said: “It was brought to our attention that the Salvation Army’s fund for doing such good work had severely diminished at a time when requests for help had reached an all-time high, way beyond even 12 months ago.
“We have already committed to funnelling some of the cash raised by the amazing people who took part in the Big Tees Sleepout towards local food banks and charities for the homeless, but we felt this was another hugely deserving cause.”
Dedicated to giving a helping hand to those who are homeless, friendless and in need, the Salvation Army gets referrals from Barnardos, social services and other agencies to enable it to give help to those who need it most.
A charitable movement committed to making Teesside a better place to live, work and do business, Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation also organised a Big Tees Sleepout in March that raised £7,000, while the country’s first ever CEO Sleepout at Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium raised £30,000.
Winner of the Heart of the Community award for the Teesside region in the prestigious North East Business Awards, the Foundation is now taking the CEO Sleepouts national, with Newcastle having hosted another in October and more due to take place in Cardiff, London, Manchester and Newcastle next year.