West Ham United stars launched this year's Newham Christmas Toy Appeal aiming to provide gifts for disadvantaged children.

Tomas Soucek, Vladmir Coufal and Maxwel Cornet met youngsters at Ambition, Aspire, Achieve’s (AAA) Terence Brown Arc In the Park base in Canning Town to launch the Kevin Jenkins OBE Newham Christmas Toy Appeal.

It is the 46th consecutive year of the appeal, run in conjunction with the Newham Recorder and the community in the borough.

The campaign helps to provide local children and families with gifts on Christmas Day who would otherwise likely go without.

It has been supported annually by the club and the West Ham Foundation due to AAA being named as one of their selected charity partners.

During their visit, the trio of Hammers players talked to AAA staff, children and parents who are part of the charity’s group of Santa’s helpers for the appeal.

The appeal helped more than 3,000 children and their families last year.

Newham Recorder: Tomas Soucek, Vladimir Coufal and Maxwel Cornet launched this year's toy appealTomas Soucek, Vladimir Coufal and Maxwel Cornet launched this year's toy appeal (Image: AAA/Colin Grainger)

The charity says it knows from referrals already made that the demand this year will be even higher.

Paula Blake, appeal coordinator and AAA's operations manager and Jonny Boux, the charity's chief executive, issued a joint plea for this year’s campaign.

They said: “The past couple of years have been amongst the most difficult and challenging in living memory, with the unprecedented cost-of-living crisis which is impacting so many.

“The appeal is sadly needed more than ever before.

"Requests for help are already exceeding all the previous appeals, reflecting the daily challenges that so many of our local children and young people are facing."

They said each child who will be supported by the appeal "will be experiencing the ravages of poverty each and every day".

They say this is compounded by challenges such as poor and/or temporary accommodation, food hunger, poor wellbeing, emotional needs and educational underachievement.

Newham Recorder: The Hammers players take a selfie at the launchThe Hammers players take a selfie at the launch (Image: AAA/Colin Grainger)

“Every family supported will be facing significant challenges, with little or no income to provide any of the gifts and seasonal foods that so many of us are lucky enough to take for granted," they added.

Appeal organisers are aiming to provide each child with a stocking of new gifts specific to their age and needs, as well as their most-wished for gift where possible.

Paula and Jonny said: “The full children's stockings will also give each benefiting family renewed resilience and determination knowing that their community cares about them, to continue to work towards overcoming their difficulties and challenges and move forward to a time when they can support the appeal themselves, as many of the previous beneficiaries now do each year.

“If you are in a position where you can help, please consider helping your local appeal in this the most difficult and challenging year for us all.

"Together we can make a real difference for Newham's most disadvantaged, vulnerable and at-risk children this Christmas, at a time when it is most needed.

"Please be part of that difference - thank you."

How to support the appeal

For people wishing to choose a gift or gifts to purchase online for a young person this Christmas, an Amazon Wish List has been set up.

This feature has a selection of items ranging from toys, hats, CDs and books to headphones, watches, teddies and much more that the appeal organisers know would be suitable for those receiving presents.

To view, visit: https://www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/ls/1608HJIMEPD14?ref_=wl_share.

Donations can be made in person at the Terence Brown Arc In The Park, in Bethell Avenue, Canning Town, from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

An online JustGiving page has also been set up, and all money donated will be spent on buying presents for Newham’s most underprivileged children in advance of Christmas Day.

To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/toyappeal2023.

Details on how you can support the campaign will be in the Recorder every week and on our website.

And AAA will feature the campaign on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.