Needy children have received Christmas gifts worth a staggering £60,000 after young Burton Albion players bolstered a festive charity campaign.
The Burton Albion Academy has donated gifts to Derek’s Tree to provide toys for children less fortunate than themselves.
Fledgling footballers from all age groups bought a host of presents to boost the charity's Christmas donation plans.
And the Under-18s squad visited Coopers Square shopping centre, in Burton, to present the gifts to Derek's Tree founder Derek Liddle.
The charity gives shoppers the chance to donate by taking a tag from its Christmas tree in Cooper's Square.
Each tag carries the name of a child that has very little, as well a note detailing the gift they would like.
Donors are given the chance to brighten up the children's Christmas by buying them that gift.
More than 50 presents were donated by academy players to the charity.
Mr Liddle was thrilled with the gesture and believes a successful festive period for Derek’s Tree is a reflection on the people of Burton.
He said: "These donations are fantastic. We have had the best year ever.
"Every single tag went this year and we are overwhelmed by the generosity of Burton people.
"It has been our biggest year ever. We are getting on for 4,000 donations, which, when you work it, out is probably around £60,000.
"The impact it has on the people of Burton and South Derbyshire is the trust.
"We are a local charity and the trust is there. We have been going for 23 years and people trust us, which is so important.
"It is very important that we stick together as a community.
"I am very pleased that Burton Albion were able to be here to support us. It all goes to a good cause and it is just phenomenal."
Derek’s Tree – a testament to the goodwill of the Burton community
Derek Liddle of Main Street, Burton, first started the project from his own home but the scheme has since hosted its collections services in Burton town centre for 23 years.
Its base is now in Coopers Square shopping centre, outside Boots and Marks and Spencer, after years in the nearby Octagon centre.
The project is now run by a whole host of volunteers as Derek himself takes a back seat.
These volunteers have dedicated days, hours or simply minutes of their time to help bring a little bit of Christmas joy to the children who are most in need.
Each year charities in the area compile a list of children who make use of their services, are known to staff as being in need and who may otherwise go without a present for Christmas.
Staff and volunteers from these charities ask each of these children what gift they would like for Christmas.
Their first name, age and what gift they would like are then printed on cardboard gift tags, which are hung on a tree in Coopers Square shopping centre.
Passers-by can choose one of these tags and buy the present for one of the children
The team of volunteers then check to make sure the gifts are safe and appropriate, and package them up for the recipients.
The presents have now been handed out to the children’s homes in the run-up to Christmas.
Volunteers at Coopers Square, where the charity is based, have been working around the clock to keep the project moving, while members of the public of all ages have been collecting gifts, as well as donating wrapping paper.