Parishioners at one of Oldham’s churches have donated presents to people on probation in a move that perfectly captures the Christmas spirit.
Worshippers at the Shore Edge Methodist Church, in Buckstones Road, Shaw, have donated new and second hand gifts to Oldham probation for more than 20 years.
Toys are collected by the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company’s (CGM CRC) probation case managers Carl Dudderidge, Chris Oakley and Hayley Stapleton, who then distribute them among offenders who are known to have children and be in need.
Parishioner Val Ridley helps run the initiative. As well as toys, people donate selection boxes and clothing.
She said: “The children get so much at Christmas. We encourage them to think about others in the borough during the festive period who might not be as lucky as they are, and to donate toys to them.
“PC Humphrey, who used to worship at our church, started it off more than two decades ago. He knew that many people on probation were in need, and it’s now become a regular fixture in our festive calendar.”
Children donate their own toys and buy new ones especially for the occasion. On the first Sunday in the month of December the toys are brought in to a special service, before being collected by CGM CRC the following day.
Val added: “We have wonderful children at this church and I am delighted they are able to spread a little Christmas cheer.”
Carl is based in CGM CRC’s Oldham office.
He said: “We run a women’s centre for female offenders and the toys are extremely gratefully received by those for whom we know money is tight.
“It captures the real spirit of Christmas and illustrates that there are some really nice, genuine people out there who care. It helps us to help our service users.”