£2m benefit to charities from our festive appeals

£2m benefit to charities from our festive appeals

Our three national newspaper titles have benefitted charities to the tune of a massive £2million through their Christmas appeals.

• The Sunday Times’ appeal to aid Save the Children’s projects in conflict zones has now smashed through the £1m mark.

The comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and his actress wife Isla Fisher donated £100,000 to the appeal to take it through that landmark.

The couple’s contribution will support seven health clinics and a damaged maternity hospital in the Syrian city of Idlib.

The money will help thousands of mothers and children who were able to escape Aleppo in the run-up to Christmas after months spent living in fear in the conflict-torn Syrian city.

The title announced on January 1 that the Children In War Appeal has raised £1,054,000 for families in Aleppo, Mosul in Iraq and the war-stricken state of Yemen – more than £560,000 of it in individual donations from generous readers.

The campaign has been boosted in recent weeks by a substantial contribution from the Bruderhof church in East Sussex and £100,000 each from Pearson, the world’s largest education service, and GSK, the healthcare company.

“The shameful inertia of the UN security council over the past five years has helped give the Assad regime free rein to commit war crimes, including the intentional bombing of hospitals and the torturing to death of thousands of men, women and children whilst in detention,” said Baron Cohen and Fisher. Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children, called the couple’s donation a “lifeline” for the health services.

“We are providing extra supplies to these facilities now to help meet the additional needs of the families who have escaped Aleppo’s siege, many of whom have illnesses and injuries left untreated for months,” he said.

“Given the regular attacks on hospitals in Syria, it is more important than ever that we continue to offer these services. This money will be a vital part of that mission,” he added.

• The Sun’s Smiles At Christmas campaign raised an incredible £500,000 in cash and toys.

The biggest festive appeal in Sun history set out to help four charities by asking its big-hearted readers to donate what they could to bring a little extra cheer to disadvantaged children.

Over the festive period Sun lorries delivered more than 35,000 toys all around the UK, dropping off at hospitals, charities, hospices, refuges and individual houses.

More than £100,000 was donated in cash with readers donating toys at Toys R Us and branches of McColl’s convenience stores.

All donations, including an amazing 20,000 toys and books from Marks & Spencer, were brought back to Newsprinters Broxbourne and then dispatched across the country.

Leukaemia sufferer Dylan Clements, nine, could not believe his eyes when he ripped open a box of Lego for Christmas.

Mum Lorraine, 42, from Croydon, South London, said: “It’s amazing how generous those supporting The Sun’s campaign have been.

“Dylan looked at me when they arrived and asked if they were his to keep. It has helped make him very happy.

“It makes me all warm inside. I’m so grateful to The Sun and all those who have donated toys.”

Dylan, who is undergoing chemotherapy, said: “I feel really lucky. Thank you to everyone. It makes me happy and excited.”

The Sun’s campaign featured four different charities who work with kids at home and abroad.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers supports children who have lost a parent in the Armed Forces. One of those kids is Jack, the son of murdered soldier Lee Rigby.

The charity was given 6,600 brand new toys to hand out as presents to the children they support.

Scotty’s founder Nikki Scott said: “There are hundreds of bereaved Forces children across the country, and just small things like a toy can help raise a smile and reassures these brave little soldiers that there are people out there who are thinking about them at this difficult time.”

The AMAR Foundation aims to rebuild the lives of children who are left in crisis in the Middle East and is currently helping those fleeing IS in Mosul and Aleppo. SKA International Group agreed to ship 1,200 toys out to Iraq.

Clutching precious new toys, Hijram Hassy and little brother Abbas could not hide their delight.

Hundreds of children in the Zelikan refugee camp north of Mosul fled IS with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

Grinning Hijram’s mum Wahbia, 30, told The Sun: “She had terrible dreams, waking up in the night screaming. Now she takes her dolly to bed, it helps her sleep.”

One camp worker wept as she described the children’s plight, saying: “They had forgotten how to play.”

AMAR founder and chairman Baroness Emma Nicholson said: “This wonderful gesture by The Sun and its readers will really give them a boost, showing them that the outside world really does care about their plight.”

Women’s Aid represents hundreds of refuges for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. The Sun delivered a vanload of toys to a refuge for domestic violence victims in Surrey.

Manager Charlotte Kneer said: “We can’t thank Sun readers enough. You’ve been so generous.

“So many of the children that stay here have been too scared to play or had toys used as weapons against them. We often have to teach them how to play again.

“These amazing gifts mean they will have toys of their own that they can play with without fear.”

Children with Cancer UK received 2,340 toys to give to sick kids at Christmas.

Charity boss Cliff O’Gorman said: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Sun readers and the companies who have donated toys. These special gifts have allowed us to surprise and delight the children who are fighting cancer this Christmas. It is a wonderful gesture.”

The sheer volume of toys donated to the appeal meant The Sun had to broaden deliveries to a further 19 charities, including Great Ormond Street Hospital and Bristol Children’s Hospital.

The team at Broxbourne have been working day and night to prepare deliveries across the UK.

Dane Sunderland, 34, wholesale and distribution network manager, said: “It has been incredible to see the amount of stuff coming in.

“It has kept us on our toes, every time we think we’re done we get another load dropped off – it’s fantastic.

“I normally work behind a desk but I’ve been getting out into the warehouse to help with this.”

Mark Terrey, 55, assistant distributions manager, said: “I’ve been unpacking all the boxes so I see everything which comes in. Sun readers have been so generous. You can see they have put a lot of thought into what to send rather than chucking any old thing in a box.”

• Readers of The Times have donated £470,000 to the title’s Christmas charity appeal, 30 per cent more than during the same period last year, it was announced on New Year’s Eve.

The donations will go to three charities: Care International, the Royal Voluntary Service and Dogs for Good.

With five million people displaced by the war in Syria and two million suffering malnutrition in Yemen, readers have recognised the life-saving work of Care International.

Already £176,000 has been donated to the charity, which provides emergency relief to those made homeless, hungry and ill by war.

Closer to home, £128,000 has been raised for the Royal Voluntary Service. The charity helps the elderly to keep active and feel valued. More than half of Britons over the age of 75 live alone and the RVS has 35,000 volunteers who provide much-needed companionship.

A total of £165,000 has been raised for Dogs for Good, which trains dogs to assist people with physical disabilities. The animals give practical support and companionship.

The Times’ appeal closes on January 31.