Gifts galore – but we need more

The gifts are piling up at Blue Skies, ready to be handed out on Christmas Day.

The gifts are piling up at Blue Skies, ready to be handed out on Christmas Day.

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It’s a good start – but there’s still a long way to go!

With just over two weeks to go until Christmas, The Gazette’s Give a Gift appeal still needs more donations if we are to make sure that no patients are left empty-handed on Christmas morning.

Staff at M&S show off their haul

Staff at M&S show off their haul

It’s estimated that more than 600 people will spend Christmas Day in Blackpool Victoria and Clifton hospitals, and the campaign aims to ensure every patient will have a gift to open, bringing a little bit of joy during a very tough time.

As of yesterday’s collection, there have been around 150 presents donated to the designated drop off points by generous readers – but that still leaves us some way short of our target.

It’s ambitious but with the help of Fylde coast residents, we can still bring a smile to the faces of every person at the Vic on Christmas Day.

The main focus of the campaign is on the “forgotten” elderly as most Christmas present appeals already focus on children, whereas the vast majority of people in hospital at Christmas time will be over the age of the 50.

Last year, more than 88 per cent of people in hospital at Christmas were in that age bracket.

If you haven’t yet donated, it’s as easy as picking up an extra present while doing your Christmas shopping.

During the appeal, The Gazette is working closely with the Blue Skies charity at the hospital and head of fundraising Ann Hedley is pleading for more donations.

She said: “We’re so grateful to those people who have donated already but if we don’t receive more, there will be people in hospital who don’t get a present on Christmas, which is awful.

“At the moment, we’re still a bit short on men’s things and overall obviously we’re short.

“We’re panicking a bit because we’re starting to wrap on Monday so we’re desperate for people to donate.

“If there’s any companies that are interested in their staff getting together to donate that would be fabulous.

“We have received quite a few boxes of biscuits but we have a lot of patients who shouldn’t be having sugar, so please no more biscuits.”

The Gazette’s Give a Gift appeal previous articles:

Give a Christmas gift and spread a little happiness

Nolan sister is in the mood for giving

Shop provides festive fun for sick children

Shops eager to help as appeal gets a boost

Presents roll in for The Gazette’s Give a Gift appeal

How to get involved

It’s really as easy as picking up one extra present when you do your Christmas shopping. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A lot of places do ‘buy one get one free’ offers at Christmas time, so you might end up with something spare that somebody in hospital would really appreciate. Then just take the presents unwrapped to one of the designated drop-off points.

Confirmed drop-off points

• Blue Skies Hospital Fund, Blackpool Victoria Hospital

• Marks and Spencer, Blackpool Victoria Hospital

• Morrisons, Squires Gate Lane, Blackpool

• Booths, Teanlowe Centre, Poulton

• Poppy and Jacks Nursery, Breck Road, Poulton

• Smyths Toys, Vicarage Lane, Blackpool

• Asda, Cherry Tree Lane, Marton

What to buy

Sabila Johnson, Ward Manager of the Care for the Elderly ward at Blackpool Victoria, recommends toiletries, biscuits, games, books - the list is exhaustive. If in doubt, just ring the Blue Skies Hospital Fund on 01253 957903

What not to buy

There is strictly no alcohol allowed.

Dangerous items such as knives are also not permitted.

Sabila Johnson also added that socks are a bad idea, unless they have grip, due to older patients being at the risk of falls.

Boxes of chocolates may be a bad idea as a number of older patients suffer from diabetes.