A FESTIVE appeal that provides about 3,500 gifts to disadvantaged children across the Bradford district is aiming for another bumper haul of presents this year.

Bradford Junior Chamber International's (JCI) Secret Santa Appeal, which originally began as the Christmas Tree Appeal in 1989, has raised the equivalent of more than £300,000 over the last decade.

Every year a host of different organisations, schools, and companies get involved to provide gifts and provide sponsorship, volunteers, storage, and promotion, as well as running mini-appeals in their own workplaces.

JCI Bradford also co-ordinates collections and events in Calderdale and Kirklees to boost the appeal, which in its 26th year runs from this Saturday, to Sunday, December 13.

The Kirkgate Centre in Bradford is the main sponsor of this year's appeal, and Michelle Pemberton, JCI Bradford’s community director, said she was extremely grateful for its support.

"I was thrilled to hear that the Kirkgate Shopping Centre had agreed to sponsor this year's appeal," she said.

"I know Catherine Riley and the team at the Kirkgate have always given JCI their full support to ensure we had a successful appeal.

"This is the time of year when anything you can do for someone else really counts, especially when thousands of young children all around us will not enjoy Christmas like we may have come to appreciate.

"We can only hope that poverty in the UK is overcome, but in the meantime the Secret Santa Appeal will try to help those less fortunate.

"There is so much positivity around Bradford at the moment, and this is another good news story of a local business supporting a project that is very close to many Bradfordian's hearts."

Catherine Riley, manager at the Kirkgate Centre in Bradford, said she was "delighted" that the opportunity to sponsor the 2015 appeal had come up.

"We’ve been closely involved with the Junior Chamber Secret Santa Appeal for 25 years, and it feels like this year it's coming home," she said.

"We hope it will be a bumper year for the appeal, which is always so popular with our generous shoppers."

JCI is a global network for young people in their 20s and 30s with nearly 200,000 members worldwide, and helping with the Secret Santa Appeal gives the opportunity for local Bradford members to take the lead to hone their project management skills.

This year's appeal runs over three weekends, with the drop-off point in the Kirkgate Centre open from 11am to 4pm.

Pennine Cycles in Bradford are also supporting the appeal, and gifts can be dropped off at their shop on Thornton Road.

For more information and ways to get involved, visit jcibradford.org.uk/get-involved/community/secret-santa.