GENEROUS shoppers helped make Christmas special for a range of Sunderland charities, thanks to a number of fund-raising events held at the Bridges.

More than £84,000 was raised in cash and kind through three separate initiatives which took place during the run-up to the festive season.

The shopping centre once again hosted the St Benedict’s Hospice’s Dedication Tree, where people could hang baubles with hand-written messages on them in memory of a loved one and give a donation to the charity.

The annual event – which has taken place for more than five years – raised £10,450 which will go towards the running of the vital facility.

The centre also sponsored the Sun FM Toy Appeal – along with companies Wearside Orthodontics and Caterpillar – and acted as the main drop off point for anyone donating toys and gifts for children and young people across the city.

Supported by the Salvation Army, around £70,000 worth of items were collected to help make Christmas special for families who otherwise might have struggled.

The Bridges also raised more than £3500 through its Santa’s Grotto, which will be donated to the city’s Rotary SR1 group which supports local good causes.

Samantha Czwordon, marketing manager at the centre, said people in Sunderland were known for their generosity.

“We’re delighted that we have had a record breaking year for everyone who was raising money over the Christmas period at the Bridges,” she said.

“We are always pleased to be able to support charities by giving them space but at the end of the day it’s the generosity of our shoppers which has helped achieve this fantastic result.

“It’s really gratifying to see at one of the busiest periods of the year, people still took time out to help others.

“At the same time, I also want to give special thanks to the hard work of the organisations and charities behind these fantastic initiatives.”