Dunelm Sunderland donated over 1600 gifts to local charities as part of their Delivering Joy Campaign this Christmas.
The retailer's Christmas gift campaign went viral this winter after people were left in tears over the messages left by young children worried that they would not receive a gift from Santa. Among the moving gift requests was a boy under 12 years old who asked for "A teddy to hold in case Santa doesn't come to me".
In another message a girl under 10 years old asked for a "selection box in case Santa doesn't come."
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This is Dunelm's third year running the Delivering Joy Campaign, which sees shoppers purchase gifts for people in need in their local community. Customers were able to collect a personalised tag hanging from a Christmas tree in-store, buy a gift requested by the recipient and return it to the store, where Dunelm colleagues ensured they would delivered in time for Christmas.
The Christmas tree placed in the Sunderland store included gift tags supplied by local causes, including primary schools and refuges in the area. The store was hailed as one of this year's "hero stores" by the company after over 1600 gifts were donated to people in need in the city.
This year, with the cost of living crisis hitting home, store colleagues noticed that rather than toys and games, many people had put winter essentials at the top of their wish lists with items such as hats, scarves, socks, toiletries and festive food items like selection boxes in high-demand.
Children not in a fixed address were also worried that Santa wouldn't know where to find them, making Dunelm's donation drive even more vital.
Sunderland based charities Grace House, St Benedicts' and Sunderland Royal Hospital Children's Ward were just some charities that received a donation this year along with many local charities such as Sunderland Woman's Centre, Love, Amelia, Bundles for Babies, St Georges and St Vincent, courtesy of generous colleagues and customers in the area.
Angela Smile, store manager at Dunelm Sunderland said: "With the cost of living crisis making Christmas a challenging time for many, we're so pleased with the outcome of our campaign. It’s been a true pleasure to help deliver joy and support those in need again this year.
"I would like to say a huge thank you to all our customers who have kindly donated gifts, your generosity is truly inspiring."
The Delivering Joy campaign has witnessed the numbers of gifts donated soar every year, with the latest national overall total topping more than 60,000 gifts - triple the number of donations in 2020 and 2021.
This year many customers across Sunderland also decided to donate pre-loved decorations via Dunelm to find new homes in shelters or care homes that might not have had the funds to provide their own.