Family Appeal to distribute Christmas gifts to families in need

Family appeal launch Helping launch this year's Family Appeal at BBC Broadcasting House were Aileen Coney (St Vincent de Paul), Major Alan Waters (Salvation Army), William Shields from Fireblade Ministeries, BBC NI's Sarah Travers and Toni-Leigh from Holy Family Primary School.

Two local charities have teamed up once again to provide presents to children and families in need throughout Northern Ireland.

The Family Appeal is a joint initiative involving The Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul with broadcast support from BBC Northern Ireland.

Last year's appeal distributed gifts to over 11,000 children.

All of this was made possible as a result of the generosity of local people and organisations.

It is expected that requests for assistance from this year's appeal will remain high, reflecting the financial difficulties facing many families at this time.

The 2011 Family Appeal was launched in Broadcasting House, Belfast on Monday at an event hosted by the BBC's Head of Corporate and Community Affairs, Mark Adair and presenter Sarah Travers.

Music was provided by pupils from Holy Family Primary School, Belfast.

"The Family Appeal makes a practical difference to the lives of local children and young people. Every gift has the potential to brighten someone's Christmas," said Sarah Travers.

Major Alan Watters, leader of The Salvation Army in Ireland, said: "Many families are really struggling during this current economic climate and that's why this year more than ever, the Family Appeal needs your support."

Gift donations can be accepted until Wednesday, 14 December, at any branch of The Salvation Army, Society of St Vincent de Paul, Tesco, First Trust Bank, Superdrug, Open & Direct, Ulster Property Sales and selected branches of Co-Op stores.

All gifts must be new and unwrapped and suitable for children and young people. No teddy bears or soft toys are required.

If you feel you are eligible for support from the Family Appeal, contact your local social worker, health visitor or The Family Appeal office at 028 9024 0825 for guidance notes and an application form before 9 December.

Further information about the Family Appeal is available on the BBC's website or on Ceefax page 178.

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