After two years of somewhat muted Christmas celebrations, many of us are looking forward to more traditional festivities this year. But for many families, including thousands of people living right here in Clackmannanshire, this Christmas will feel a lot less celebratory.

With the cost-of-living crisis hitting households across the country, many families are stretched to meet day-to-day living costs, let alone being able to afford expensive toys for children.

This is what inspired the Alloa Advertiser to launch our first ever Toy Appeal. We are calling on our readers to donate toys to youngsters throughout Clackmannanshire and take pressure off hard-working parents and guardians who may be facing an uncertain festive period.

Alloa Advertiser have launched this Appeal for the very first time backed by kind-hearted sponsors Recruitment Alba, Simply Pay, Sterling Mills, Timber Direct and Bilanco Blinds– hoping that the strong community spirit we have in our area will ensure the Appeal is a success. 

Our hope is that, thanks to your generosity, every child in Clackmannanshire will have a present to open on Christmas Day.

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Those getting involved in the Appeal will be able to drop off their donated toys at Sauchie Active8 based in Sauchie Hall or The Gate Charity in Alloa. Development Officer at Sauchie Active8, Donna McLean, said: “If people feel they can afford to donate anything, however small, to the Toy Appeal, their generosity will alleviate worries for local families struggling and help towards providing for local children this Christmas.”

Hopefully you will join us in doing all we can to spread some Christmas cheer to those who need it the most. As the festive season approaches, Toy Banks across the country are gearing up for an influx of parents and guardians hoping to bring joy to their little ones this Christmas.

Lesley McAllenan, Foodbank Development Coordinator at The Gate, one of the drop-off points for our Appeal said: “We are always looking for ways to support those living in crisis in our community. Teaming up with a well-known and respected newspaper like the Alloa Advertiser helps us to reach a larger audience and hopefully help more families in our local area.”

Sauchie Active 8 are among the charities taking part in our Christmas Toy Appeal this year.

Lauren McLean, Development officer at Sauchie Active8, said: “We are at the heart of the community and are aware of the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on local families that, due to rising bills, have never struggled before.

“As a community, we all need to pull together to ensure no family feels unsupported, alone or struggles unnecessarily this Christmas. We want to help them know that there are local organisations that are there to help.”

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Sauchie Active8 is a community organisation based in Sauchie Hall supporting local residents in Sauchie and Fishcross by providing learning and social health and wellbeing activities for everyone. From baby and toddler messy play, youth clubs, social groups and older adult fitness classes, the charity engages with the community to ensure they always have someone to turn to if they need support and strive to alleviate poverty in our area. 

The group’s partnerships and collaborative working is vital to help reach as many people possible in our local community.

“If people feel they can afford to donate anything, however small, to the toy appeal their generosity will alleviate the worry for a local family struggling and help towards providing for their kids this Christmas,” Lauren adds.

For more information follow Sauchie Active 8 on Facebook @Active8Sauchie or email

How can you help?

A branded Toy Appeal paper bag will be enclosed in every edition of the Alloa Advertiser on Wednesday 14 December. We are asking readers to add a toy (or toys) into the bag and then take it to one of our two designated drop off points: The Gate Charity, operating temporarily from 83 Main Street, Sauchie and Sauchie Active 8, located at Sauchie Hall, Mar Place, Sauchie. Any donations will be hugely appreciated. 

Sterling Mills Shopping Outlet Village 

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The Alloa Advertiser Toy Appeal is an important initiative with a simple aim: ensuring that, regardless of their financial circumstances, local children get to enjoy a bit of magic and excitement this Christmas.

Affinity Sterling Mills is one of the local businesses sponsoring our appeal this year. Ashleigh Durkin, Marketing Performance Manager for Sterling Mills, explains why the centre decided to get involved:

“It’s not an easy time for people at the moment,” she explains, “but it is easy for us to help in a small way by using our platform to bring awareness to such an important cause.

“It breaks my heart to think of any child going without even one toy to open on Christmas morning, families are under such pressure at the moment and it’s time for communities to pull together to make sure no child is forgotten.”

Sterling Mills Outlet is a highly popular destination around Christmas time, allowing people to pick up quality gifts at great prices. They also pride themselves on providing free family entertainment to community all year round, as they believe it is important to carry on support to local initiatives that help families when they need it most.

They will also have a Santa’s Grotto throughout weekends in December – it is a free event where every child will receive a gift.

Find out more at

Bilanco Blinds LTD

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A proud sponsor of the Alloa Advertiser’s first ever Toy Appeal, the company backs the aim of the appeal that every child in Clackmannanshire should have a present to open on Christmas day this year.

Audrey Biscotti, owner of Bilanco Blinds, admits: “I’m a mum, I have seen the joy of Christmas on the faces of my children… it is a time for children. To help ensure a little one has some parcels to open on Christmas day, at this incredibly difficult time for families, is important to me. 

“Times are hard, budgets are stretched, people are doing without to make their money go further but Christmas is a time to relax and enjoy the day with your family.

“If I could donate a toy to take the stress off a mum or a dad looking at that day coming and worrying that they have nothing to wrap, then I would want to help. Even the tiniest toy makes a difference.”

Bilanco Blinds is a family-run independent business selling quality blinds and shading solutions for domestic and commercial purposes. Having been running for over 50 years, the firm know a thing or two about blinds and how to provide all clients with top customer service.

To avoid a last-minute panic, if you order now you will be able to enjoy new blinds in time for the family visiting this Christmas.

Audrey adds: “We are solely in business due to the generosity of local people inviting us into their homes to supply them with blinds and shading solutions. It is important for us to acknowledge this and where possible pay back into the community.”

To find out more about Bilanco Blinds visit or email

Recruitment Solutions Alba

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As we launch our first ever Alloa Advertiser Toy Appeal, Recruitment Solutions Alba is one sponsor backing the new campaign.

Recruitment Solutions Alba are a recruitment agency based in the local area. The firm supply into the transport and industrial sectors throughout Scotland. They have ongoing contracts with clients which gives them the flexibility to offer candidates full time, part time or ad hoc shifts.

Yasmin Pollock, an Operations Manager with Recruitment Solutions Alba, explains why the company decided to get involved and back the new Toy Appeal. She said: “In today’s current financial climate, I know that there will be a lot of families struggling this year and we just want to help in any way that we can to make sure that there are no children waking up on Christmas without any presents.

We really want to help and support the community in any way that we can. Having two young children of my own, as soon as we were contacted to support the appeal, we jumped at the chance to get involved.

“Christmas is a time when everyone should come together and support each other and what better way to do that than by helping the local families that are struggling during this time.”

Recruitment Solutions Alba are experts in all aspects of transport and industrial, the local teamwork hand-in-in with clients and candidates and serve all areas of the country.

To find out more visit or call 01259 404123.


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The Alloa Advertiser’s Christmas Toy Appeal relies on the strength of our community spirit in order to be successful.

And for one local business owner, it was this sense of community that prompted him to get involved in the appeal. Louis King is the managing director of Dunfermline-based SimplyPay, a Visa and MasterCard licensed card payments provider. They offer card terminals, till systems and e-commerce platforms, making it easy for their clients to do the most important part of their business – getting paid!

He explains here why he decided to sponsor our Toy Appeal:

“Growing up for me it was always about community. In the business, we employ local people and take part in as many of these excellent campaigns as possible. Community has been good to me, and I feel it’s only right to give back.

“I come from a background of being a young carer – although I always had good Christmases, I grew up around those who didn’t. I know how tough Christmas can be on some families, so wanted to give a little to others.

“This year is going to be tougher than ever with a lot of families potentially missing out giving their loved ones a gift. If you can donate, you’re playing your part in making sure that no child is without a toy this Christmas.”

To donate to the appeal, simply pick up a copy of the Alloa Advertiser on Wednesday 14 December to get your free paper bag. The bag can then be filled with any donated toys and taken to the drop off points at either 83 Main Street, Sauchie or Sauchie Hall, Mar Place.

SimplyPay is currently recruiting into their sales partner and referral partner programs, offering people a secondary income to help them through these tough times. All training is provided, and they pay you monthly on each sale you bring to the firm, as well as an upfront commission. Contact for more info, or head over to the website:

Timber Direct

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Christmas is meant to be a time of joy and excitement, especially for children. But there are some children who won’t be able to get everything they hoped for this Christmas, with the cost-of-living crisis sadly affecting families up and down the country.

The Alloa Advertiser Toy Appeal aims to ensure that no child in Clackmannanshire has to go without a present this year.

One of the sponsors of the appeal is local firm Timber Direct Scotland, who supply fences, decking and garden buildings to customers across central Scotland.

The firm’s owner, Billy Clark, says that he was moved to support the appeal by the thought of children missing out during the festive season.

“I’ve got two kids myself,” he says, “and I couldn’t image them waking up on Christmas Day without anything. I wanted to get involved with the appeal to help kids that weren’t as lucky.

“We’ve never had times as hard as this in my life, and I don’t think anyone should wake up on December 25 without a smile on their face. Hopefully the Toy Appeal will allow this to happen.”

Timber Direct will manufacture, supply and install garden buildings, playhouses, sheds, summerhouses, fencing and decking. They offer free quotes to customers and also have a tool on their website that allows you to design your own garden, or garden building, exactly as you want and to your own specifications.

They are a family-owned business with over 30 years’ experience, a best value service, and quality workmanship at competitive prices.

They are even offering a special discount to customers who mention the Alloa Advertiser while getting their quote. To find out more, visit

To donate to the appeal, pick up a copy of the Alloa Advertiser on Wednesday 14 December to get your free paper bag. The bag can then be filled with any donated toys and taken to the drop off points at either 83 Main Street, Sauchie or Sauchie Hall, Mar Place.