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Visitors to Ankerside Shopping Centre have helped raise more than £400 for charity, as well as donating hundreds of presents to the ‘Operation Christmas’ gift appeal.

A portion of the entry fee families paid to visit Santa’s grotto at the Tamworth shopping centre last month, contributed towards funds which have been donated to Community Together CIC.

The charity, alongside Acorns Children’s Hospice and Pathway Project, also received a fantastic selection of toys, books, games and toiletries from generous shoppers who took part in the centre’s 15th annual Operation Christmas appeal.

All items collected went to the three charities, which support children with health issues and their families, as well as vulnerable people in the community.

“Our Christmas fundraising and gift collection has once again been a resounding success,” said Ankerside administrator, Lucy Harvey. “We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to everyone who took part in the campaign, as they have helped bring smiles to many faces across town.

“The festive season is a time of giving and we are so grateful to our visitors for their generosity and I’m sure the recipients of the presents truly appreciated this gesture of kindness,” said Lucy. “We are also very pleased that money from the grotto has provided additional financial means for Community Together CIC to continue the incredible work it does.”

Community Together CIC supports the people of Tamworth through a local drop-in hub, where visitors can receive advice on leading a healthier lifestyle, take part in activities, have access to a befriending service and more.

Steve Hodgetts, business support officer at Community Together CIC, said: “Ankerside’s charitable efforts have been a massive help to us and all the gifts will be handed out at various activities we deliver.

“This month, we are launching a new parent and tot group at the Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital, so some of the toys will be used there and others will go to our youth club and hub at Castle Grounds.

“Support from local businesses and the public enables us to reach out and support more people, so a massive thank you and to everyone who donated,” added Steve.

Acorn Children’s Hospice provides vital care for babies, children and young people, with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, as well as support for their families. Amanda Smallman, senior fundraising manager for corporate and community at Acorns, said: “We are delighted that once again children and families supported by Acorns will benefit from Ankerside’s Operation Christmas.

“The people of Tamworth are always so generous when it comes to this appeal – a huge thank you to everyone who has donated presents,” said Amanda. “Ankerside is a long-standing supporter of Acorns. As a charity, we rely on the support and generosity of local businesses and communities, so we can’t thank Ankerside enough for its continued support and encouragement.”

Pathway Project works to support adults, young people and children who are experiencing domestic abuse or have been affected by it. Jackie Hughes, its senior children’s co-ordinator, explained that the gifts were greatly received by the women and children at its two refuges.

“The generosity of Ankerside’s shoppers who donated gifts helped 20 women and 26 children in refuge. They were overwhelmed, as for many of them this was their first happy and settled Christmas ever.

“Also, in the community we were able to make a difference to several families, who without this appeal, would have had no presents at all. Thank you once again to Ankerside for its wonderful support,” said Jackie.