Kirkcaldy: Cottage Centre smashes target in its biggest ever Christmas appeal
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The centre raised the incredible amount to ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in Kirkcaldy and surrounding area didn’t go without this festive season.
The centre estimated it would need to raise £45,000 in order to help up to 1600 children trapped in poverty this year.
As well as donations of toys and clothes, it also gave local families a survival pack of food to get them through the festive period when many services are closed.
Staff have also ensured that families are able to stay warm by giving them cards to keep the heating on.
The appeal, which launched in November, came at a time when those with next to nothing are suffering the most as utility bills soar, the cost of food rises, and they come to terms with the £20 top-up Universal Credit payment being taken away.
On Thursday, volunteers mobilised once again to organise gifts and food packages at a local warehouse in the town which was re-purposed for the day as a collection point for the convoy of vans which made the deliveries.
Wilma Brown, vice chairman at the centre, said last year the centre helped 1400 children and this year the numbers have gone up again – as they do every year: “Over the last few years the numbers have continually risen but when you have 200 children more, it just shows you the depth of deprivation that we have in the area.
"It also shows the really hard time that people have had over the past two years with the pandemic on top of everything else. The number of children to provide Christmas for is really a shame on our whole society – it’s awful.
Wilma said local families have also had to deal with the steep increase in utility bills, rising costs of food and the removal of the £20 Universal Credit top up.
“The loss of the £20 has had a big impact.
"If you give someone who is on benefits a little bit extra money, that very soon becomes depended upon. That extra £20 buys families extra shopping or it puts an extra £10 on their electricity meter.
"One of the things we did this year to help was to give people £25 to put on their electric and their gas over Christmas.
"Pauline Buchan, centre manager, went out and stood at Post Offices waiting on people coming to meet her with their card and she paid the money directly on to it.”
Wilma said staff at the centre were overwhelmed once again by the level of support from the public and local firm.
“Businesses come back to us every year because they see that every penny goes to the people who need it,” she said
“People come back to us early doors to ask us what is needed and some just give us money. For example I represent UNISON Fife health branch and we gave £10,000 this year.
“We also have elderly people who come into the Cottage every year after saving £1 a day, and give us their bundle of coins – or we have someone who has just picked up their pension and they give us £5 or £10. Every single penny is greatly appreciated.
She added: "We are not forgetting about the people who donate something very small or something very big – everyone in our eyes is a hero because they bring us money and gifts every year for the appeal.”
Meanwhile, Anna MacKenzie, director at Briggs Marine in Burntisland – which is a big donor and supporter of the appeal, joined the team at Thursday’s big delivery day, along with her two sons.
She said: “Our company has been involved with the Cottage Centre Christmas appeal for a number of years, and I love being able to go out personally a couple of days before Christmas to see the effort that has gone into this whole event. It is important to feel part of the community and to give something back personally.
"The numbers of children the appeal helps always go up - it never goes down.
"This is why this appeal is essential locally and I am delighted to be able to help.”
Marilyn Livingstone, chairman at the Cottage Centre, said: “The appeal has been going for a good few years, but I think this year it was extra important because we have so many families in need. The need is even greater because of the impact of the pandemic.
"There have also been the changes to Universal Credit, along with the fuel crisis and the cost of living going up which has hit families hard, so anything that the Cottage can do to help is greatly appreciated.
"The Cottage is the instrument in how we deliver it but this is a community coming together to help those less fortunate. This is how we have reached our target because people have been so generous in helping us.
"I am so proud of the team at the Cottage – they give up so much of their own time at this time of the year to help.
"Pauline, her team and all the volunteers are an amazing group of people who make this possible and allow us to support those less fortunate, to make a difference. It’s been a huge team effort.”
She added: "We just wanted to put a smile on children’s faces on Christmas Day and this makes it all worthwhile.”