20 June 2024

Phoebe’s ‘gift of kindness’ helps to launch toy bank

by Tim Nuttall

The fundraising efforts of a 13-year-old Withernsea girl have been the catalyst for the launch of a new toy bank in the town.

Last October, Phoebe Spokes set herself a challenge to walk back and forth along the town’s promenade, with the aim of covering 15 miles over three days. However, such was her determination that the youngster achieved her target in just one day – raising £200 through donations and sponsorship in the process.

This money helped to buy a selection of books that were handed out as part of a Santa’s Grotto event at the Shores Centre in December.

Around the same time, the centre received numerous donations of presents suitable for children – including a sizeable collection from the town’s branch of MKM Building Supplies which, throughout December, had collected toys alongside non-perishable food items for the benefit of the centre’s food bank.

Despite a huge demand for items over Christmas, with gifts successfully circulated
to those most in need, there was still an abundance of items left over that led to the idea of creating an all-year-round provision to support disadvantaged children. This sparked a conversation between Phoebe’s mother, Penny, and Shores CEO Jayne Nendick and the idea of the toy bank was born.

Named after the girl whose selfless fundraising helped to kickstart the collection, the Phoebe’s Wish Toy Bank is accessible to families and individuals in need through referral from various established agencies including the Children’s Centre, police and ward councillors.

Phoebe’s fundraising efforts are a source of great pride for her mother, and toy bank coordinator, Penny.

“Phoebe is special needs and I’m very proud of her growing confidence and desire to help people in the community. The walk was her first ever fundraising activity and although it was meant to take place over consecutive days, she completed it in just one – we couldn’t stop her.”

Jayne added: “This is the start of a longer journey and a legacy which Phoebe can be proud of. Phoebe’s story is a really positive one which goes to show that anyone, no matter their circumstances, can bring positive change to the world.

“We hope that with the support of the community, and continuing donations, the toy bank will still be here in years to come for the benefit of those most in need.

“Those who use it will probably never know Phoebe, and she’ll never know them, but her actions will go on to support families across our community. Her gift of kindness will continue to evolve.”

To help maintain the provision, donations of unwanted gifts or no-longer-used books, toys and games are being welcomed at the Shores centre. There, they will be cleaned, checked for safety and packaged up ready for distribution.

A catalogue of items is being populated, with the toy bank catering for ages up to 18, or 25 if they have special educational needs.

For further information about the Phoebe’s Wish Toy Bank, contact Shores on 01964 615190 or visit the centre at 29-31 Seaside Road, Withernsea.