A toy donation started by a little girl “with the biggest heart” has given 130 children presents for Christmas.
When Freya was just three years old she told her mum, Brooke Reid, she wanted to give some toys to less fortunate children and they decided to donate them to Crossreach, a charity supporting people recovering from addiction and their families.
It started an influx of donations and the toy recycle became an annual event which has now helped more than 500 children.
Now in its sixth year, the charity event was held on Friday and parents in need chose toys to give their children on Christmas morning.
Organiser Lucie Conway said what Freya started has had a snowball effect, with the toy recycle helping more people every year.
“Freya’s life was so short but look what she started,” she said.
“She was only here for a short time but she achieved more than some people do in a lifetime.
“It all started with Freya, a wee girl with the biggest heart, then the following year there was one lady in particular who sticks in my head. She had the biggest smile and couldn’t believe the stuff she was given and that’s what made me determined to keep doing it.”
This year, social distancing put the event in jeopardy but Lucie said she was more determined than ever to make it a success.
“I had no idea how I was going to make it work but I knew I was going to make it go ahead one way or another, she said.
“We’re helping 130 children this year and seeing the gratitude of their parents and that pressure lifted off their shoulders makes it all worth it.
“People have been so grateful cause they have been so anxious about Christmas.”
Freya’s mum, Brooke Reid, helped out at the event at The Friary in Dundee and said she was “so proud” of what her daughter started.
“It’s amazing to see how many toys have been donated,” she said.
“There’s so much stuff and people need help now more than ever.
“If Freya was here she would be in her element, she would be bossing everyone around and directing everything. She would have loved to have seen this.”
Hundreds of toys were donated and laid out on tables for parents to choose for themselves.
One mother, Kimberley Stewart, was collecting gifts for her 19-month-old daughter, Gracey Robertson.
She said: “I think this is an amazing service which is really helpful, especially at this time.
“With poverty and coronavirus making that worse, people are obviously struggling and this is making a whole lot of difference so my child’s Christmas and so many others.
“It has taken a lot of pressure off me as a mother.”
The toys had been kept at Armadillo storage, which provided a free unit to keep them in until the event.
But disaster struck on Thursday when the van transporting the toys to the Friary was involved in an accident.
Staff at Arnold Clark in Dundee stepped in to help and offered a hire van free of charge.
Lucie said: “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without everyone helping me, from volunteers to the businesses.
“I’ve got to thank the kids too, if it wasn’t for them donating the toys we wouldn’t have any to give away.”
The Courier Christmas charity appeal
The Crossreach Toy Recycle was the winner of The Courier’s Christmas Charity Appeal.
Four charities were given £1,000 each to spread some festive cheer, with one winning organisation doubling their donation.
Readers were asked to collect tokens for their chosen charity and the one with the most was given an extra £1,000.
Lucie Conway, who runs the Crossreach Toy Recycle, said: “I’m absolutely lost for words at the support we have had.
“People always say what a great thing the toy recycle is but I’m still totally blown away.
“It just shows how big the hearts of the people of Dundee area.”
Crossreach received 1,683 tokens, followed by 1,022 for the Sunshine Box, which provides toys for children in hospital in Tayside and Fife.
Clothing charity Togs for Tots received 996 tokens and 965 went to Home-Start Dundee.
David Clegg, editor of The Courier, said: “As we come to the end of one of the hardest years since the Second World War, a happy Christmas is needed now more than ever.
“Most parents will be looking forward to seeing smiles on their children’s faces as they unwrap their presents, but for some it is an anxious time as they struggle to put food on the table, let alone buy gifts.
“That is why, this year more than ever, it is heart-warming to see initiatives like the Crossreach Toy Recycle going ahead to make sure children have presents under their trees.
“Lucie, the volunteers and everyone who donated toys or collected tokens should be very proud of what they have achieved.
“Well done to Crossreach and our three runners up, Togs for Tots, Home-Start Dundee and the Sunshine Box.”
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