A COMMUNITY has rallied to support a heart-warming appeal in aid of children who may otherwise not experience the joy of Christmas this year.

DPD delivery driver Mark Miller decided to start a toy appeal to ‘spread a bit of love’ to families less fortunate during the festive period.

Working with Gary Johnston of Johnston’s in Grange, who collected the donated toys, and with the help of Councillor Fiona Hanlon to spread the message far and wide, the appeal has seen an amazing response from residents who despite still feeling the effects of Storm Arwen donated in droves.

The Westmorland Gazette: AMAZING: Hundreds of toys have been donated to Mr Miller's appeal

“I wanted to do something that people in the community could get involved in,” said Mr Miller.

“It all started with putting a post on Facebook and as a councillor she [Cllr Hanlon] got it shared. From there it took off.

“I thought more people in the area might want to get involved and it got shared again and again.”

Mr Miller collected the toys from Johnston’s this week to drop off at Women’s Community Matters in Barrow, who will distribute the items to those in need.

The Westmorland Gazette: PROUD: Mr Miller collecting the toys to take to Women's Community Matters

The delivery driver, from Preston, said the experience had been ‘humbling’.

“I didn’t expect it to grow as much as it did in just a week,” he said.

“It’s very humbling to see this reaction from people.

“When I was younger things were different at Christmas. But for kids today who have had a bad experience in life they don’t expect something like this.

“I thought if they woke up and had some gifts there they might find some hope. If they had a bad start in life, and then people they don’t know do this for them it might inspire others.

“It’s been fantastic, and I felt so happy doing it.

“People even stop me in the streets and say here’s a tenner, give that to Johnston’s.

“It’s been so successful I might do it again next year maybe.”

Mr Miller has been praised for the initiative.

“Mark’s spark of an idea has brought genuine festive warmth to local children in real need this Christmas,” said Cllr Hanlon.

“By helping Mark turn his idea into reality, Gary Johnston and the residents of our wonderful town of Grange-Over-Sands have yet again shown why it is so very special to live here within this caring community.”