SICK children forced to stay in hospital over Christmas will get a special surprise thanks to the Daily Echo’s Toy Appeal.

The initiative – now in its 20th year – has teamed up with the Amelia’s Rainbow Fund to provide gifts to ill youngsters for the last four years.

The charity was set up following the death of eight-year-old Amelia-Grace Cooper (inset) in 2010, who died after battling an aggressive form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma.

Every year Amelia-Grace’s parents Chantel and Karl take gifts to the children’s ward at Poole Hospital on Christmas Day through the toy appeal.

And Amelia’s mum Chantel said she hoped this year’s appeal would be bigger and better than ever before.

She said: “We aim to not only provide presents to both Poole and Dorchester Hospitals on Christmas Day and Boxing Day but also to the families of the children we have supported over the last two years who remain at home over the festive period.

“We are continually grateful for the support of all those in our local community with this venture and can’t wait to distribute your kind gifts to local children this Christmas.

“As always we will be in need of gifts for all ages but particularly babies from newborn and teenagers. We are also always in need of sensory gifts.”

Christchurch telecommunications supplier, 4Com, has agreed to work with the Rainbow Fund to support the toy appeal this year and a number of other local businesses have signed up as collection points.

Dean Cartledge, director of the 4Com Foundation, said: “As well as providing logistics support and staff volunteers, the 4Com Foundation will be buying toys and games which we hope will make this Christmas a little bit more special for the children and families supported by this fantastic charity.”

Toy collection points are located at:

n4Com - Aviation Park West, Christchurch

nStore and Secure - Castlepoint, Bournemouth

nTop Cat Media - The Creative Quarter, Scotter Road, Bournemouth

nMK Estates & Lettings - Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth

nThe Funky Peach, Ashley Road, Poole

Gifts will also be collected at the Daily Echo offices in Richmond Hill, Bournemouth, and our Swanage office in Commercial Road.

There will also be collection bins at NatWest branches in Bournemouth, Westbourne, Poole High Street, Upper Parkstone, Canford Cliffs, Broadstone, Wimborne, Boscombe, Southbourne, Winton, Castlepoint, Christchurch and New Milton.

The Toy Appeal will run until Friday, December 16 so we can get all the gifts wrapped and ready for Christmas delivery.