The Kindness Offensive: Downton volunteers and charities give away Christmas toys

More than 600 toys were given away to local children in need – including terminally ill children – after a group of volunteers gathered in Downton this weekend.

The Stable & Wick bakery and farm shop, Downton, hosted a charity giveaway on Saturday (December 18).

The event was in collaboration with The Kindness Offensive, a group known for organising large-scale random acts of kindness, which distributes tens of thousands of toys to deserving children in the UK.

A group of volunteers wrapped brand new toys, donated by Hasbro UK, in the morning.

Local charities and community groups collected the toys in the afternoon to distribute to children in the area.

The charities involved included Julia’s House Hospice, Rainbow Trust, two branches of the Salvation Army, Salisbury Toy Appeal, and Downton for Families.

The Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity provides emotional and practical help to families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness.

Kathryn McInnes, Head of Care for Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, said that she feels like the giveaway “restores your faith in human kindness”.

She said: “I think for children that we support, it’s going to make a huge difference.

“Covid has had a devastating impact on everybody and for the families that we work with it’s been particularly difficult because we work with families who have children who are life-threatened or terminally ill.

“So during a time where they have been unable to sometimes access hospital appointments and some of our support has had to go online, it will be great help for families to have toys so that our staff can interact with them digitally from afar.

“This act restores your faith in human kindness. It’s been a really difficult time. Some of our families live in remote areas and just haven’t had the time to go out and buy toys because their children are seriously ill.

“It’s such a good feeling that our staff can give these out and we are just extremely grateful.”

James Light, Verwood-based filmmaker who grew up in Ringwood, has helped co-ordinate the toy giveaway in London for many years.

He said he wanted to bring the initiative to his local area.

“The Kindness Offensive has been going since 2008. Most years since then, we have done a toy giveaway. I wanted to do something local but never really found a space,” he said.

“A friend – Louisa Parry, owner of Stable & Wick – offered up her barn space, as she had started up a new business, and it seemed like a perfect fit.”

Louisa Parry, owner of Stable & Wick, said: “We are really happy and delighted to be able to host this event here at the bakery.

“With so much craziness going on, it just feels really good to be able to give something back and help those who really deserve it.”

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