OUR annual Christmas Gift Appeal with Wyre Forest charity Home-Start launches today, giving readers another opportunity to bring some seasonal joy to families in need.

For the 15th year running, The Shuttle is asking members of the community to buy a gift for a local child aged 0-18 at this special time of year.

Last year was our biggest appeal to date, with more than 800 presents donated, and this year, even more businesses have signed up to act as collection points, with every donation going to a youngster in receipt of Home-Start Wyre Forest's support.

Branch manager Belinda Darby said: "Every year we are amazed at the quality and quantity of the gifts donated to the appeal and the thought people have clearly put in to their donations.

"We are astounded by the generosity of people in the Wyre Forest and I hope those who donate this year realise how much their gifts will mean to the families we support.

"It is such a pressured time of year for everyone, but for families with the added pressures of isolation, depression, past trauma or illness, it can be a very challenging time.

"To receive an anonymous gift - with nothing required in return - can ease the pressure and make the season a little more enjoyable, but more importantly it's sending out the message that someone cares about them and their family at a very vulnerable time in their lives.

"It is a privilege to be involved with the appeal year on year.”

Drop-off points are located at the Swan Centre Management Suite, Midcounties Co-op Stourport and Franche stores, Tesco main stores in Kidderminster and Stourport, Wright Solicitors in Bewdley, St Mary's Church in Harvington, and Weaver's Wharf outlets: McDonald's, Debenhams, DW Sports, TH Bakers, Savers, Boots, Sports Direct and Greggs.

Lynette Atkinson, of Wright Solicitors, said: "We started supporting the appeal with a few staff bringing gifts into work and then our directors got behind it and we had a fantastic response last year so we decided to volunteer as a collection point.

"It's a great appeal because all of the gifts go to families in the Wyre Forest."

Presents can be donated until Sunday, December 15. After then, Home-Start staff and volunteers will deliver the gifts to the families they are supporting - ready to open on Christmas day.

Presents can be of any value but must be new and unwrapped.

For more information about Home-Start and the Shuttle Gift Appeal or to become a volunteer, visit homestartwyreforest.org.uk or call 01562 825896.