A LEADING North East shopping centre is thanking shoppers for raising thousands for charity through a number of fundraising initiatives

Sunderland’s the Bridges supported and ran several charity initatives throughout autumn and winter, with a total of more than £106,000 going to those in need around the region.

Shoppers dug deep for a number of causes, raising £15,505 for the Poppy Appeal and £3,470 through the Bridges’ Christmas Grotto, which will be donated to Rotary SR1 which in turn will use the cash to support a number of local charities.

The Bridges was also a sponsor and main drop-off point for Sun FM’s Toy Appeal, where shoppers donated a variety of Christmas presents for children and young people in difficult situations, with the appeal collecting gifts worth more than £76,000.

Visitors to the centre also took advantage of a gift wrapping service offered by The Children’s Foundation, which supports disabled, disadvantaged and distressed children across the region, which added £600 to the total.

And the centre was once again home to St Benedict’s Hospice’s Dedication Tree, for visitors to dedicate a bauble in memory of someone special for a small donation, which raised £10,511 for the facility.

Catrina Flynn, head of fundraising at St Benedict’s expressed her gratitude to the Bridges.

“We are so delighted that the Bridges chooses to support us each year in hosting our Dedication Tree on the run up to Christmas,” she said.

“As a Sunderland based charity it is important to us to have a strong community link and where better to do that than in Sunderland’s main shopping facility.

“Being in the Bridges means so much to us and I know that our supporters and volunteers look forward to us being there every year.”

Choirs and carol singers were also offered the opportunity to perform during the festive season, raising funds for their own particular charity or good cause while an additional £600, raised by the Reindeer Dash which was organised by Sunderland BID and took place in December though the Bridges, will be divided between the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) and the Foundation of Light.

Andy Bradley, centre director at the Bridges, is delighted with the total raised.

“Each year we are blown away by the generosity of Sunderland shoppers, who continue to dig deep to give back to those in need,” said Andy.

“We are thrilled to be able to have supported a variety of charities over the festive season, both through our own fundraising and by hosting important initatives like the Giving Tree, the Reindeer Dash and the Toy Appeal.

“We are incredibly grateful to all of the shoppers who donated to our fundraising initiatives, which has made a real difference to so many people around the region.”

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