MORE than 1,000 toys and 500 food hampers were gifted to vulnerable families over Chrismastime as Leigh Leopards helped to support the town's longest-running toy appeal.

Hoping to ensure that every child had a present to open on Christmas Day, the Leigh-based Compassion in Action (CIA) charity collected toys that were gifted by individuals, local businesses and partners throughout the festive season.

Even some of the Challenge Cup winning Leigh Leopards came out to help the charity with donations, which were delivered directly to families, who had been referred to the charity, by a team of volunteers on Christmas Eve.

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Leigh Journal: More than a thousand gifts were delivered to vulnerable familiesMore than a thousand gifts were delivered to vulnerable families (Image: Compassion in Action)
Pam Gillian, CEO of Compassion in Action, said: “The success of this project would not have been possible without the wonderful individuals, organisations and companies who donated money and presents to ensure every family referral was provided for.

“In addition to gifting three brand-new, age-appropriate presents per child, we delivered a full roast dinner with vegetables and all the trimmings to more than 500 families. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make all this possible. We are ‘Stronger Together’.

With the Leopards calling upon Leythers to support the cause, players visited the charity’s headquarters to drop off presents and spend time with staff and volunteer gift wrappers from Wigan Council’s Adult Social Care Team.

A hundred red card memberships were also gifted by club owner Derek Beaumont – enabling children from vulnerable families to see their heroes in action at two matches of their choice when the new season begins.

Leigh Journal: Pam Gilligan with Wigan Council executives and Greenmount volunteersPam Gilligan with Wigan Council executives and Greenmount volunteers (Image: Compassion in Action)
“Leigh Leopards have been instrumental in their belief and support of the work of our charity – especially at Christmas,” added Pam.

“Derek Beaumont has been our community rock, helping us to help others. The whole Leopards team and fans, with club captain John Asiata providing an inspirational lead, have supported our appeal year on year.”

The coordinated effort to make sure families received their toy and food parcels in time for Christmas was supported by Wigan Council’s senior executives and officers - including Director of Environment Paul Barton and Assistant Director Dave Lyon, as well as volunteers from construction company Greenmount.

The borough-wide operation included toy deliveries to Royal Albert Edward Infirmary’s Rainbow Ward in Wigan, and further afield to the Children’s A&E Department at Royal Bolton Hospital.