An Army of volunteers to help bring Christmas to Fife families

A huge number of volunteers helped out last year. Pic by FPA
A huge number of volunteers helped out last year. Pic by FPA

Every year it gets bigger, and every year more people join the huge team of volunteers to help the Cottage Family Centre’s Christmas Appeal run smoothly.

This year will be no different, with dozens of staff, politicians, company bosses, individuals and even a former Prime Minister taking time from their busy schedules to help deliver over 1000 festive packs to vulnerable families in and around Kirkcaldy.

In what has been described as “a military operation”, families will receive toys, clothing and food enough to see them over the festive period, including a Christmas dinner of steak pie, potatoes and veg. The packs are often life-savers for those struggling to make ends meet. Planning the appeal starts in October each year, with letters being sent out to dozens of local companies and businesses asking for help.

And over the years Pauline Buchan and her dedicated team of staff have gained a growing number of supporters from the Fife business community.

For John Deacon and his staff from CMS Windows at Hayfield Industrial Estate in Kirkcaldy this will be the third year of being involved in the appeal, after hearing about it when doing work on the Cottage Centre.

“We were asked if we had any storage space they could use as the appeal had become too big for the centre,” explained Mr Deacon (59), contracts manager.

Pauline Buchan with Mark James from Briggs Marine (left) and John Deacon from CMS which are both helping out this year's Christmas appeal for the third year

Pauline Buchan with Mark James from Briggs Marine (left) and John Deacon from CMS which are both helping out this year's Christmas appeal for the third year

“We were able to help and it escalated from there.

‘‘We offered them the use of some vans for delivering the stuff, and more of our staff got on board. This year we’ve organised eight vans and drivers for the day, as well as storage for the goods.

“It’s sad that we need an appeal like this, but the Cottage does a great job and we are happy to help out.”

Briggs Marine is another staunch supporter of the Cottage, with managing director Collison Briggs also becoming involved three years ago after reading about the appeal in the Fife Free Press.

Lyndsay Eason

Lyndsay Eason

Mark James (52) from Burntisland is the company’s operations supervisor. He explained that, as well as giving a financial donation each year, the company provides around six vans and around a dozen staff to help on delivery day.

“I helped with the deliveries on the day last year and I really didn’t expect what I saw. I really didn’t know things were as bad as they are for some families.”

It’s not just the bigger companies which deserve the credit for helping out, as the Cottage Centre’s “army” includes many smaller businesses, charities and individuals.

Lyndsay Eason (59), from Kirkcaldy runs the electrical contractors business she and her late husband Gordon set up in 1994, with her son.

Sharon Reynolds

Sharon Reynolds

After being asked to run a yoga programme for adults at the Cottage some years ago, she began helping out around 2010, with the company giving a donation every year.

“The centre needed carrier bags, so we will be providing around 2000,” she said.

“I didn’t realise that there are people out there living the way they do in this day and age.

“When my kids were younger it was a struggle, and I think that if we can help in even a little way then it is a good thing to be involved in.”

Sharon Reynolds (45) from Kirkcaldy became involved with the Cottage through her work with the Dallas Drive Tenants and Residents Association which gives a donation to the appeal each Christmas.

Sharon also gives what she can in the way of food and clothing donations to help out.

“It is a great place and the people here really care for the community, as we do too, so I like to give what I can for the appeal.”