EVERYONE loves getting presents at Christmas.

Though, each January many of us are left wondering what to do with the collection of unwanted gifts that will inevitably end up cluttering up wardrobes, drawers and cupboards for the rest of the year.

However, the Florence Park Community Centre in Oxford has come up with a novel way of making sure those surplus socks, toiletries, games and ornaments are put to good use.

On Saturday the centre held its first Unwanted Christmas Gifts Auction to raise vital funds for the increasingly popular neighbourhood hub.

Residents were invited to donate any superfluous items which were then sold off to the highest bidder during the centre’s busy lunch period.

More than a dozen items were donated with residents eager to support the centre in Cornwallis Road while having the added benefit of unloading some of their Christmas rejects.

Regular user of the community centre Hillary Grime donated candles, ornaments and a table football set from her 11-year-old grandson.

She said: “My grandson had a duplicate present so I’m donating that and a couple of other things.

“It’s a brilliant way of encouraging people to avoid waste and just have a bit of a fundraiser.”

Another member of the community who did not want to be named said: “I think it’s great. I have friends who have had unwanted Christmas presents so I have just collected them up and it’s a great way of redistributing things and a good way to raise money for the centre.”

Trustee of the community centre, Viv Peto, added: “This is the first year we’ve run the auction.

“I used to do them at work, where people would bring in things they didn’t want and it worked quite well so we thought we’d give it a try.

“If we can raise even £50 to £100 that will go a long way.”

The auction attracted dozens of residents keen to bag a bargain raising more than £80 to go towards the centre’s Over 60s Lunch Club as well as covering general running costs.

And organisers were sure there would be no ill-feeling or awkward conversations if residents happened to come across a gift at the auction that they themselves had given as a present.

Centre manager, Sara Reevell laughed: “I hadn’t thought of that.

“But it’s for a good cause and I’m sure no-one will have a problem.”

The community centre has undergone a resurgence in the last five years thanks to a core group of volunteers who help run events and activities for local residents, including youth clubs, dances and the Over 60s Lunch Club.

Lifetime president of the centre, Sheila Tree, has been using the centre since the 1960s and added: “It’s a vibrant place now, it’s really taking off again, and events like this will help keep it going.”

The auction was the centre’s first fundraiser of what will be a busy 2019.

At the end of the month volunteers will stage their eagerly anticipated annual pantomime which is the centre’s main source of funding, while later in the year members of the community centre association will be launching a major fundraising appeal to develop and expand the centre.

For more information on Florence Park Community Centre visit florenceparkcommunitycentre.org.uk/