A COWLEY shopping centre has teamed up with the Salvation Army to help spread festive cheer this Christmas.

Each December volunteers from the Christian organisation collect and sort gifts to deliver to children and families in need.

Usually the Oxford branch only has a short period to organise the hundreds of donations at South Oxford Baptist Church but this year Templars Square has given the charity a unit within the shopping centre to use for free.

The shop, which can be found opposite New Look, will help the charity gather donations and prepare for distribution.

In 2017, around 400 children received toys and gifts thanks to the group, which partnered with social services and health workers to get presents to children who may not receive any due to their families experiencing debt problems, addiction or mental health issues.

Tim Johnson, who leads the Oxford Salvation Army with his wife Sam, said: “This year we’re in need of lots of new toys, especially for teenagers but we also need food items so we’ll be collecting cash donations in the pop-up shop to go towards the cost of food parcels.

“All of the donations from the shoppers at Templars Square will go to families with needs and vulnerable households in the Oxfordshire area.”

The Salvation Army was also given a boost by Oxfordshire contractors DW, which helped transport thousands of pounds worth of goods already ordered for Christmas presents from the Tesco store in Cowley to the new pop-up base. People can stop by the temporary store between now and Tuesday to help or donate.

There will be a temporary drop-off point at the shop open from 9.30am until 4.30pm between Monday and Saturday.

The charity is asking for new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children up to the age of 16.

Owen Acland, Templars Square manager, said: “We are delighted to support The Salvation Army’s appeal this year. It’s such a great initiative.

“Once all the donations have been collected from the temporary shop they will be packaged into parcels and distributed to children’s homes throughout Oxfordshire, which is absolutely brilliant and we’re pleased we’re able to help in some way.”

For more information search Salvation Army Oxford on Facebook.