Special delivery to help Fife families most in need

Preparing for deliveries at the Cottage Centre.
Preparing for deliveries at the Cottage Centre.

The lady who answered the door with a baby in her arms and three other young children crowded around her couldn’t contain her emotion as she was handed the crates of food and black sacks full of toys and clothes.

As she wiped away the tears which were running down her cheeks, she said: “I don’t know how I would have managed without this help.”

On her own and with little family support, she had been facing a very bleak festive period until the kindness of the people and businesses of Kirkcaldy stepped in to help by donating to the Cottage Family Centre’s seventh annual Christmas appeal.

“I could never have afforded to even buy them food like this, never mind all the presents too. People are just so kind and I want to thank everyone who has given anything to help us,” she added.

It wasn’t just her four little children who were given a helping hand by the Cottage to see them through, but hundreds of other just as vulnerable children in and around Kirkcaldy.

Those like the Templehall family where the father had been made redundant just a few months before Christmas, or the family where both parents were on zero hours contracts and struggling to pay the bills, or where one parent had become seriously ill – the list is endless.

Around the town 950 families enjoyed a joyful Christmas thanks to the generosity of Fifers who showed the true meaning of the season.

The kindness of complete strangers helped families to enjoy a hot cooked Christmas dinner in a warm house with presents for their children to open.

It ensured they had new pyjamas to wear to bed – and in some cases even ensured they had a proper bed to sleep in, and that they had a warm winter coat to wear in the freezing cold weather.

And like them, the many families who the food, toys and clothes were delivered to last Friday, want to express their heartfelt thanks to every person who took the time to hand in everything from tins of beans or £5 to hundreds of selection boxes and carefully chosen gifts for children whose parents are going through very difficult circumstances and needed a helping hand.

As one person summed up: “These are people who don’t know me or my children, or anything about what we are going through, but they helped us anyway and they showed us that people do still care about others.”

And isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas?

Delivery D-Day runs like clockwork

Having spent the last few months writing about the generosity of the many Fife businesses, shops, groups and individuals, as well as the staff and volunteers who helped make the appeal such a success, I was keen to see the huge operation in action.

And huge it was, with two massive industrial units at Hayfield filled to bursting with crates of food and black sacks of presents carefully numbered to ensure they all reached their final destination together.

Dozens of volunteers helped load them onto a huge fleet of vans, again provided free by generous local companies such as CMS and Briggs Marine as well as Fife Council, in a military style operation.

And although there were a few minor blips such as one sack of toys not being loaded with the rest, they were soon put right.

Deliveries were still arriving on the day and being sorted into the correct age groups, while the last minute perishable foods were added to the crates.

Going out to deliver them with a member of the Criminal Justice social work team proved a real eye opener, and even some of the social workers who are used to dealing with vulnerable families every day were shocked by the level of poverty some children are still living in.

The question I kept hearing time and time again was: “How can this still be happening in 2017?”

And, with ever increasing numbers needing help every year that the appeal has been running, where will it all end?