Thank-you letters show how Northampton's generous readers made Christmas special for hundreds of families this Christmas through toy appeal
In the weeks before Christmas, the Chronicle & Echo's readers donated thousands of presents to help make Christmas special for Northamptonshire's most vulnerable families. It truly made a difference - and now we've got the letters to prove it.
Thanks to you, hundreds of families living on the breadline in our county were able to Make December 25 that much more special this year with the help of your donations to Mother Christmas' Toy Appeal.
A record-breaking 2,500 presents were handed in at the Good Loaf Cafe for Northamptonshire County Council's social workers to share out to those who needed them most.
And now, 'Mother Christmas' Jeanette Walsh says dozens of thank you letters from social workers and families have been written to thank the Chron's readers for their generosity.
One story came from a social worker who wrote to say: "One of my young girls had a really tough time just before Christmas for a variety of reasons and was feeling very low and vulnerable.
"She cried when she opened her box. She told me 'it’s happy crying, it’s so nice. It’s funny that strangers want me to have a nice Christmas, I’ve not got anyone else'."
One young boy was able to give his mum and dad presents during their contact over Christmas - gifts he can't normally afford on his pocket money. His carer wrote to say: "It might seem small but it was a massive feelgood factor in his life."
Another story was of a woman who was homeless this past year but has now come off the streets. She is living in supported accommodation and this year for the very first time she received a number of gifts that came from the Christmas appeal.
Her social worker wrote: "The gift's raised her self-esteem massively. Just to know that people do care has given her the motivation to try and look for a brighter future."
The annual toy appeal is spearheaded by former social worker Jeanette Walsh - better known as 'Mother Christmas' - who has run the annual appeals across the county for 17 years after she herself received a donated gift while growing up in care.
Speaking in December after seeing the piles of presents that were handed in, she said: "There are at least 5,500 young people and children in across the county that are disadvantaged. And these presents will give them a Christmas like never before.
"The quality of the gifts is astounding. I've never seen anything like this in 17 years. It's the best response ever."
Gifts that are not used at Christmas will become birthday presents for young people throughout the year.