Caring colleagues at Newton Abbot’s Tesco Superstore are giving local children in need something to smile about this Christmas.

The store is working with the Salvation Army to collect presents for the many children who would otherwise go without on December 25.

More than 80 Newton Abbot and Teignmouth families who will find Christmas difficult this year have already been referred to the Salvation Army by social services. That number is expected to rise in the next few weeks, so the Tesco store is donating £500 worth of presents to the Salvation Army’s toy appeal.

It will also have a donation point at the front of the store so that kind-hearted customers can donate presents to the appeal.

Janette Parker, the store’s community champion, has been working with the local Salvation Army to ensure everything is in place ahead of Christmas.

She said: ‘I was concerned when I spoke to the Salvation Army that they’d already had so many families referred to them. The thought of children not having a present to open on Christmas Day is upsetting for us all.

‘We have now chosen £500 worth of toys from the store for local children, to make sure they get a gift this year.

‘In previous years we’ve had 60-70 presents donated by our generous customers, so if we receive a similar amount this year and combine it with what we are able to donate, hopefully there won’t be any children going without a present on Christmas Day.’

Major Nigel Byrne, of the Newton Abbot and Teignmouth Salvation Army Church, said he and his colleagues had aimed to open a shop in Newton Abbot so that people could also donate presents there, but lockdown restrictions put an end to that.

He added: ‘Having the Tesco toys and the store as a donation point is so important to us. We’re over the moon about the help we’ve had from Tesco. It’s been a tremendous boost to us.

‘We have such a good relationship with them. They’ve looked after us so brilliantly. Our partnership with them means that every child referred to us will have a gift this Christmas.’

In addition to the toy appeal, the store has been donating long-life food items to local foodbanks and will provide Christmas Day meals to a South Devon homeless shelter.

Janette added: ‘We’ve always been community-minded here and we will of course be continuing our essential community work during these challenging times.’