MORE than 900 children in Inverclyde will have a happy Christmas this year thanks to the Salvation Army.

Volunteers have been busy at the Greenock headquarters getting parcels ready to go out to families.

They have been overwhelmed with referrals and say demand has been greater than ever.

Diane Johnson, lieutenant for Greenock Salvation Army, said: "People have been incredibly generous.

"We know everyone is struggling but we have been overwhelmed by the generosity we have seen.

"We have experienced some shortages of toys, especially sensory toys. A lot of children with sensory needs have been referred to us this year.

"We've also been running out of gloves, hats and socks, really basic things this year."

Both Diane and volunteer Maureen Pentland have been out buying extra items.

Diane said: "We are blessed that some people have chosen to give us financial donations.

"We get people getting referred to us, right up to Christmas Eve. There has also been a real increase in people coming to our emergency foodbank.

"We refer people to Inverclyde Foodbank but we still get people coming to us on a Saturday or or in evening to our small emergency foodbank.

"It's been especially busy in the last week with people having nothing to make for tea that night."

The Salvation Army receives referrals from health visitors, Barnardo's, social work, the Floating Support Service and Inverclyde Carers Centre.

Maureen, who has run the toy appeal for 35 years, said: "Every year the demand gets greater.

"I find it personally very rewarding, knowing that local children are going to have presents to open on Christmas Day.

Diane added: "We do it for God. It's our Christian belief to help others. We love God and we love other people. There is a saying, heart to God and hand to man.

"We want to thank everyone who has supported the appeal. We couldn't do it without the support of the public and local businesses."

This year the team had help from volunteers from CalMac to help with lifting, sorting and bagging toys.

They are also receiving a donations from the police, led by Chief Superintendent Gordon McCreadie.

It's still not too late for people to hand in donations, and all will be gratefully received.