THIS week the Wiltshire Times launches its second Christmas toy appeal, in conjunction with the Salvation Army in Trowbridge.

Salvation Army member Stephen Smith is expecting an increase on last year’s record levels of demand.

He said: “There were 100 children we were able to give Christmas presents to last year, and we need to be prepared to be called on again.

“We don’t know how many people will need our help, but with the way things are in the current climate, we’re expecting another busy year.”

All toys donated to the appeal will be used within the Trowbridge area.

The charity works with Wiltshire social services, which supplies it with a list of underprivileged children facing difficult times over Christmas.

Needy families also approach the Salvation Army directly, meaning it is always under pressure to supply enough gifts.

Anyone wishing to donate will be able to do so from Monday at one of the designated drop-off points.

They can be dropped at the Wiltshire Times office at 15 Duke Street, Trowbruidge or at the Sainsbury’s stores in Bradford on Avon and Melksham.

Tesco Extra in Trowbridge is also acting as collection point.

Mr Smith said: “We will be grateful of any people who want to donate toys, so long as they are boxed in their original packaging.

“Even the smallest gift can make a difference. The only way these kids get Christmas is through the generosity of your readers.”

Salvation Army captain Kelvin Lang said: “The shops are already trying to get our attention with all their Christmas displays.

“Winter is dull and bleak, and psychologically people can get very down, but it’s nice to have something bright to look forward to.

“That’s why it’s so important we help those who may be suffering at Christmas.”

Wiltshire Times editor Gary Lawrence said: “We are knocked out by the response of our readers last year.

“This has been a tough year for many in west Wiltshire but I am sure our generous readers will help us make it a special Christmas for many more families who really need it.”