Early years students organise toy drive collection for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

University Centre South Essex organised a toy collection for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s eighth annual Toy Drive to help underprivileged families in the community this Christmas.

The collection was organised by Early Years BA Hons students at University Centre South Essex and Maria Cruickshank, Early Years Programme Leader. 

Students and staff were able to donate new toys, suitable for babies, boys and girls aged up to 17, vouchers for toys or days out, selection packs, pens, pencils, colouring books and toiletry sets. University Centre South Essex also provided packs of books and a branded notepad that will be part of the collection this Christmas.

Third year Early Years degree student, Chelsey Wallace, said: “It has been such a privilege to be involved in this project and it’s great knowing that the toys will be helping families give their children toys this Christmas.”

Another student on the Early Years programme, Taylor Challis, said: “The experience has been absolutely amazing. When we saw the final product with all the presents laid out we couldn’t believe how many donations we had received and we can’t thank everyone enough for their generosity.”

Since the Toy Drive began, 7603 toys have been donated to local children through local charities and programmes with last year breaking the record of 1433 toy donations. 

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “We are delighted that the University Centre South Essex have been supporting the Toy Drive. This project provides smiles for children in our borough that would normally go without at Christmas, so to have the support of our local university emphasises the community spirit in the town.”

The donations for the Toy Drive were received by Southend Council on Wednesday 15 December. 

There is still time to donate to the Toy Drive, with donations being accepted until Friday 17 December. You can find out more information on the council’s website: www.southend.gov.uk 

To learn more about the Early Years programme, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/early-years-education-ba-hons