KIND-HEARTED donors are being asked hand over gifts to ensure youngsters don’t go without this Christmas.

Braintree Salvation Army is holding its annual festive gift collection to support those in need – and says it is seeing more people than ever needing help.

People are being asked to hand over new toys and gifts which will be distributed to families across Braintree, Witham and Halstead.

Richard Wearmouth, Salvation Army Officer, said: “The scheme has run for many years. So far this year we have had a list from a school with 35 children on it.

“We would like to give them more than one present – maybe one big and two small gifts – but that would mean 100 gifts for just one group.

“Last year we gave presents to more than 100 children. We have definitely seen an increase in the last year.

“The Salvation Army do this as we wouldn’t want a child to go without at Christmas and we also want to be able to help groups in places we might not be able to reach through schools and social services.”

The collection started last week and runs until Monday, December 17.

Mr Wearmouth added: “December 17 really is the cut-off point as people do get quite stressed the closer it gets to Christmas.

“We are after new toys from birth right up to teens. It can be books or pencils and crayons right up to motorised gifts.”

A collection point is at Argos, in Bocking End, and any gifts left must be new in the packaging and must not be wrapped.

Anyone who wants help from the Salvation Army should contact the offices at 26-28 Rayne Road or call 01376346487.