A ROYTON church which has been playing Santa Claus to thousands of Oldham children for the last seven years has launched a new appeal for the less fortunate at Christmas.
As well as collecting toys – which saw more than 500 parcels delivered in 2017 – Bethesda Church Royton is adding tins to its annual appeal this year.
Additionally, pastor Geoff Goodwin, his congregation and volunteers run a furniture bank from their base on the corner of Dogford Road and Rochdale Road.
“Through the furniture bank we are coming into contact with people who are in serious crisis,” explained Geoff.
“They have used the food bank three or four times but it hasn’t got the resources to feed everyone ad infinitum.
“My dream is the people who respond so generously with toys will also generously help with tins as well so we can stock up the food bank so everyone who turns up at the foodbank (West Street, Oldham) can get food so they won’t have to go without this Christmas.
“Throughout the year we act as collection point for food. People don’t want to throw things away, particularly when they find out we are receiving it and giving it away to such good causes
“It makes people feel good they are helping someone. It makes me think, ‘What would I be like in their position?’
“It’s a bit like the Joan Baez song There but for Fortune. It’s the same with the furniture.
“The relief that comes on people’s faces when you can say, ‘You can have a bed’ or ‘You can have a washer’.
“I am constantly left in tears because they feel so relieved. You can just see the burden lifting.
“That’s a beautiful thing to be in the middle of.
“And that’s the generosity in the hearts of people in Royton, Shaw and Crompton.”
Bethesda began collecting toys on the back of the former Key 103 Toy Appeal. Choosing to do their own appeal, they donated 175 parcels. Last year that total reached 500.
And Geoff, pastor at the 128-year-old church since 1990, is hopeful of even greater numbers in 2018.
More than 200 had already been sent ready for distribution in the first week of November.
“You stick your neck out but I’ll be surprised if we don’t double the 500 from last year,” he said.
“And we are more relaxed this year because we have started two or three weeks earlier.”
Good, clean toys are wanted across all age ranges but especially for older children of which there is always a shortfall of toys.
Anyone wishing to drop off toys or food items can do between Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm.
“We also don’t mind if people want to donate money,” added Geoff.
“Everything we receive will be distributed throughout Oldham,” he added. “That area stretches from Royton right into Delph, Uppermill and Greenfield in Saddleworth which might surprise some people.
“We also distribute to families down into Failsworth and Bardsley, along Ashton Road.
“I am encouraging some of other churches to get involved on that side of town. There is serious need to do some loving.”
To drop off, visit during Charity Shop opening hours or at other times try the RED door on Dogford Road, or leave them by the WHITE door in the car park.
For more information call Geoff on 07976 768112.