The generosity of the local community was overwhelming this Christmas with over 16,500 gifts donated to #Toys4Birmingham. Thrive Together Birmingham joined forces with the Edgbaston Foundation and Birmingham PlayCare Network to launch the campaign and as a result thousands of the most vulnerable children and young people in Birmingham received Christmas gifts.

During December 2020 over 16,500 gifts and £2,000 were donated by Birmingham residents and businesses to support families struggling to buy gifts for their children at Christmas.

2020 was a tough year for everyone due to the Covid 19 pandemic, but for some the prospect of Christmas filled them with further dread as they simply couldn't afford to buy presents for their children. Many were struggling to afford the essentials for their families and a gift to bring a child joy was simply not possible.

Fred Rattley, CEO of Thrive Birmingham, said: “We were overwhelmed by the huge level of support we received from individuals, schools, organisations and businesses from across Birmingham for our #toys4birmingham appeal. As cars, vans and even lorries began delivering hundreds of donations we just couldn't believed what we were seeing.

"We had 2-3000 requests for toys from across the City but by mid December we were able to help so many more thousands of families in and around the city. My thanks to everyone who go involved."

Birmingham Play Care Network had approached Thrive Together Birmingham and Edgbaston Foundation and asked if they would consider using the #Feedbirmingham food collection model to collect toys and gifts for children and young people aged between 0 and 16. The results were spectacular.

Emma Payne from Birmingham PlayCare Network said: “Our connections with grass roots organisations who support the most vulnerable families meant that the gifts donated were received by children who really need them and are often missed out by other appeals. Play should be an essential part of every child’s Christmas and this appeal went a long way towards achieving that.”

Following the success of #feedbirmingham to bolster food supplies to those who needed it most in Birmingham during the Covid 19 crisis, this project was set up to help those who could not afford to buy presents for their children this year because of the hardships caused by the pandemic.

Edgbaston Stadium once again generously allowed us to use their venue as a central collection point and distribution centre, but this time rather than collecting food we collected toys which were repackaged and sent on to individuals through community groups.

Ravi Masih, Head of Community Engagement at Warwickshire County Cricket Club and Lead of the Edgbaston Foundation said: “We were delighted to partner with Thrive Together Birmingham once again, after our successful collaboration on the #FeedBirmingham initiative. We would like to thank everybody who got behind #Toy4Birmingham and donated a toy or book at the stadium during the December.”

“Responding quickly to emerging needs in the community is vital in the current climate. #Toys4Birmingham is an example of this, as we quickly mobilised once we heard about the need to support children. There were many families for whom Christmas was an unexpectedly a difficult one, and we were keen to play our part in trying to ease the pressures faced to give children a happy Christmas."

All money donated through this campaign went directly towards buying gifts for vulnerable children and young people whose families might not otherwise be able to afford Christmas presents. All toys, books and gifts were distributed through the work of Birmingham Play Care Network, Birmingham Forward Steps and other partners who work directly with vulnerable families.