A HOSPITAL toy appeal is aiming higher than ever thanks to a big-hearted motor dealer becoming the driving force behind the campaign.
SG Petch Darlington has linked up with the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust’s official charity for the “Tons of Toys” appeal, which aims to collect and deliver as many new toys as possible for children at Darlington Memorial Hospital.
The appeal comes at a time when hospitals are experiencing a shortage of toys because many have become single-use due to Covid safety precautions.
SG Petch Darlington will make its base in McMullen Road a collection hub for donated toys, and the company will also use its vans to deliver them to the hospital.
Craig Saunders, general manager of SG Petch Darlington, said: “When people are buying for friends or loved ones, we are asking them to buy an extra toy that can be donated to the appeal, not just for Christmas but all year round.
“We have a lot of storage space, and we have the vans, so our aim is to make sure that every child that comes into the hospital gets a toy at what is a difficult time for them and their families. We plan to literally collect tons of toys.””
Craig has personal experience of what it’s like for children in hospital because his son, Owen, is a severe asthmatic who had to spend weeks in intensive care when he was four.
Over the past year, the motor company has supported Darlington Rotary in its appeal to collect books to send to children in Kenya, and the “Tons of Toys” appeal is seen as a natural extension of that community initiative.
Pat Chambers, charity manager for the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s a godsend to have a business like SG Petch Darlington volunteering to lead the toy appeal – it means we can be more ambitious than ever before.
“Due to Covid safety measures, many of the toys, as well as items such as colouring pens, end up being taken away when children leave hospital, and it’s become really hard to keep up with demand.”
Clementine Jackson, paediatric sister at the hospital, added: “Children can often be with us for quite a long time, and having things for them to play with helps us to build a therapeutic relationship which is so important.
“Toys are not something that’s funded by the NHS so we rely heavily on the charity, and having this kind of support from SG Petch will make a massive difference.”
Anyone wishing to make a toy donation should go to the main reception at SG Petch. The company will also arrange collection for bigger items.