CHRISTMAS cheer descended on Thurrock as the Give a Gift shop at Lakeside was launched.

Barbara Rice, mayor of Thurrock, cut the ribbon on Monday, officially marking the opening of the store.

The Give a Gift initiative offers members of the public the opportunity to donate a present to a Thurrock child in need who may not otherwise receive one on Christmas Day.

The process is very simple: when the shop opens anyone can come in and pick a red star off the tree, each of which represents a child in need in the borough, and purchase a gift for them.

This donation is then returned to the shop and checked by the Give a Gift teams, wrapped by council staff volunteers and then passed on to social workers who hand deliver the presents to each child in time for Christmas Day.

Gold stars are also available on the Christmas tree, which members of the public receive after making a donation to the Mayor’s charity Giving for Thurrock. The store is located next to HSBC.