Christmas comes early to the West Midlands this year as Business in the Community launches its annual Cares at Christmas campaign for 2006, sponsored by National Grid.

While many hold on to the last rays of summer for as long as possible, businesses are being asked to think ahead to the festive period to spread a little cheer to the more disadvantaged people in the area.

Cares at Christmas asks businesses and employees to provide gifts for local people, perhaps instead of sending Christmas cards to colleagues or business partners. By joining the Cares campaign, businesses will receive a matching-service to ensure their gift donations are sent to relevant community groups in their local area who are working with clients including children, older people, disadvantaged families or the homeless.

Business in the Community's Regional Director, David Darlaston said: "Last year's campaign was tremendously successful with over 2,000 packs donated to a value of over £32,000. We are of course hoping that this year's campaign will be bigger and better and encourage companies big and small to become involved."

Julian Buttery from National Grid added: "We are pleased to be involved with Cares at Christmas for the second year. This campaign is unique in that it focuses businesses on giving something back to a range of different groups in their local community at Christmas time. This is a practical way for local businesses to get involved, by simply registering and encouraging employees to take part."

Cares has been running in the West Midlands for more than 7 years and typically mobilises a minimum of 2,500 volunteers from companies across the region each year.

Getting involved is simple, just email caresatchristmas or ring 0871 230 0335 for an information pack. The pack explains how the scheme works, including how to register and what community organisations in your local area need support.