Delivery day for Cottage Centre’s huge Christmas appeal
Kirkcaldy charity the Cottage Family Centre has smashed its Christmas Appeal target of £32,000 as generous Fifers pulled out all the stops to help families in need.
The centre raised over £35,000 to ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in Kirkcaldy and surrounding area won’t go without across the festive seasons
Staff at the centre have been overwhelmed with the level of support from the public and local businesses.
Scores of volunteers who gave up their Christmas holidays to help organise and deliver gifts and food packages have been working around the clock at a warehouse that was re-purposed as a collection point for the convoy of vans which made the deliveries on Monday.
Pauline Buchan, centre manager at the Cottage has worked tirelessly to organise this year’s Christmas appeal.
She said: “I started sending letters to businesses in September to ask for their help with our appeal, and to get the ball rolling.
“At the end of October I looked at the number of families that came for lunch during the holidays throughout the year, and the amount of people in general who needed our support with other issues.
“That gave us a rough idea of the numbers in need of support this Christmas.”
Once again, the total showed a worrying rise.
Added Pauline: “Last year we supported 1077 people and spent just over £30,000.
“This year we knew we would have to raise £32,000 just to be on the safe side.
“We smashed that target last Thursday, and we are now at about £35,000 – which is just as well because we ran out of toys last Thursday and had to go back to Cash for Kids where we took the excess it had for teens and toddlers.
“Because crisis referrals were still coming in there was still a shortfall in gifts, so thank goodness for the extra money. We went to B&M on Friday where we bought £1500 of toys.”
With everything bought and the giant trays filled, the task of getting them to families across town swung into action on Monday.
Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and patron of the Cottage Family Centre, pitched in with the delivery teams.
He said: “I’m incredibly proud of the staff at the Cottage – it is an amazing group.
“I go all over the world and I can talk about Kirkcaldy having this great family centre. It is a great asset to the town.”
But the continuing rise in the need for help remains a source of deep concern.
Mr Brown added: “I’m shocked by the number of kids in need.
“There are 1271 this year – up from 1077 in 2018.
“Five years ago that figure was 500 – and, when we started in 2011, it was just 80.
“The rise has been dramatic. It is heartbreaking poverty – it’s really sad.
“We are filling a gap left by the welfare state, and this is the safety net for a large number of families which wouldn’t have a Christmas if it wasn’t for the Cottage. That is why it is so important.”
He paid tribute to all the volunteers who drove the campaign and ensured Christmas would be much brighter for so many families.
“I think Kirkcaldy has got the best Christmas service from a charity anywhere in the country, so we have got to be proud of it,” he said.
“It started as just Christmas presents for kids, but now it’s food and clothes as well.
“Kirkcaldy is in the lead when it comes to providing help for children at Christmas.”
Marilyn Livingstone, former Kirkcaldy MSP who chairs the centre, was also at the delivery day helping to organise gifts and food parcels.
She said: “I have been involved with the Cottage for over 30 years. It is very dear to my heart and I feel really passionate about it.
“This is about helping families, women and children.
“We are really concerned that the children in our community have a good Christmas this year.
“We are the fifth richest country in the world and we are feeding 1271 children in Kirkcaldy.
“We want to see a society where there are no foodbanks and where we don’t have to support children due to poverty.
“Until that day, the Cottage is here to help support families that need it.
“Every single toy that has been given to us has been given to us from a family, and some of those families probably need help themselves.
“It leaves you with no words – it leaves you choked up to see the help that the Cottage has had.”
“Pauline and her team have been absolutely amazing, they have been working non-stop to get this massive operation off the ground.”