The leader of a Tavistock toy recycling project is seeking a new lead to continue her passionate work in making Christmas magical for children and families in need.
Isabel Williams, a cancer specialist nurse and mum of two, started the project after having a brainwave during a clear out at home at the end of 2021. Sorting through still perfectly usable toys her children had grown out of, she wanted to pass them on for free to families who could benefit from them.
She teamed up with outgoing local Salvation Army major Pamela Smith to arrange a day when families on low income or facing financial hardship could select gifts to give their children at Christmas that year. The project was so succesful, they repeated it in 2022. Donations of good quality toys for all ages of children were invited from local people and these were then offered to local families free of charge at an event held at the Lower Deck cafe at the United Reformed Church in early December last year.
Donations have not been restricted solely to toys — in the two years the project has operated so far, they have also catered for teenagers, with gifts ranging from books, games, puzzles, CDs, DVDs and even a new laptop, Due to extensive personal commitments, Isabel is unable to continue coordinating the scheme this year – and so is seeking someone to take it over.
She said: ‘It’s really evolved, people last year were deliberately keeping their toys back so they could pass them on here; it would be a huge shame if the project didn’t continue. No one should go without at Christmas — especially a child’.
The donation window lasted approximately one month, with drop off points at the library, Tavistock Carpets and Mime Cafe on Paddons Row. In addition to holding the event for people to choose gifts for their children, Isabel also made deliveries to households in Tavistock and Plymouth for those unable to attend the main giveaway, and to local charities, who were then able to ship boxes laden with gifts overseas to Ghana and Ukraine.
Isabel said: ‘This role is suited to anyone willing to give their time, with the slight expense of fuel to make deliveries. It’s hard work but unbelievably rewarding. Those who benefit are so grateful, some have been really overwhelmed and in tears saying that they couldn’t express how much it meant to them and if it weren’t for this, they wouldn’t have been able to give presents to their children that year. It’s reactions like this that make it all worth it, you see you’ve made a difference and that it’s all so worthwhile.’