A CHRISTMAS toy appeal helping disadvantaged children has increased its target beneficiaries to around 1,500 this year.

The Lalley Toy Appeal, run by Dee and Chris Drake, from Twemlow Green, is now in its fifth Christmas, growing year on year.

Donations made to the toy appeal are packaged and sent to hundreds of children from Knutsford, Collyhurst and other areas of Manchester, and now Macclesfield beginning in 2016.

Dee, who works full-time in IT, said: “As we get more focus on social media more people are hearing about what we are doing.

“If there are kids that need toys, then you just do it.”

The toy appeal began at The Lalley Centre five years ago, helping around 230 children by giving them presents to open on Christmas Day, which they otherwise would not have due to unfortunate circumstances.

Since then the numbers have grown, to 440 in 2013, 760 in 2014, 1,005 in 2015 and now 1,500.

This year, there will a day dedicated to packaging each child’s toy parcel, which is tailored to the individual based on age and gender.

The packing day will take place at Egerton Football Club’s base on Mereheath Lane.

A number of fundraising events have also taken place to give the charity extra funds to buy presents if the demand is not covered by donations.

“Everyone is generous and more aware of the appeal now,” said Dee. “People come to make up the toy sacks with us and they feel it, they see where the money is going and they see that their toys are going in bags for the children. It’s a bit emotional.”

Children are often referred to The Lalley Toy Appeal by their schools, social workers and a large bulk are allocated through The Lalley Centre itself.

Hannah Lodge and Rachael Neale, from Knutsford, are two of three regulars who help Dee and Chris with their efforts, as well as a large number of volunteers who attend the annual packing day.

Recently Kath Small, who runs the Knutsford Youth Orchestra, and Jo Jones, another Knutsford woman, hosted a quiz night at Egerton Football Club, raising £2,000 for the charity.

The Lalley Toy appeal will also host a fundraiser at The Mere Golf Resort and Spa on Thursday, October 6, which Dee hopes will help boost money towards the £20,000 target for this year.

For more information visit lalleytoyappeal.com