By Leigh Taylor
During the hustle and bustle of the festive period, many across Ayrshire and beyond will struggle to make ends meet with the idea of receiving Christmas presents simply thrown to the backburner, with themselves and their children lacking even the basic essentials.
The Night Before Christmas Campaign looks to challenge this epidemic to aid those struggling during Christmastime by joining forces to create gift boxes for those in need. The campaign made its debut in 2015 when mother and daughter Isabella and Jodie McFarlane reflected on the fact that many children would receive little to nothing on Christmas Day. This spawned the idea of creating boxes for youngsters in their local area to ensure they’d be able to bask in the joy of the season like so many around them. The campaign launched humbly with 90 boxes distributed in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
In the years following, Night Before Christmas has gone from strength to strength with fellow mother-daughter duo Gail and Taylor Fisher joining the drive in 2016, branching it out to the Glasgow and Renfrewshire areas as well as donating 75 boxes to Ayr Foodbank. Taylor said:
“We aim to bring some happiness at this time of year to people and families who are struggling to make ends meet. We do this by providing a Christmas Eve box filled with gifts and essential items following our family traditions. We do this in the hope this relieves some financial stress on parents and minimises the number of children that go without a gift at Christmas time. We also want people to know they aren’t alone and the community acknowledges that poverty in Scotland is real. We believe that one act of kindness won’t change the world but it can change one person’s world”.
The campaign supports and works in alignment with several different charities which Taylor feels has greatly helped the cause:
“The feedback has been great for the boxes distributed by the NB4CC Team. Each year we search for new charities to support alongside our existing charities. Since starting our campaign our eyes have been opened by the unique stories we have heard. Each charity we support is different and every family’s story is unique to them, from living in poverty to being homeless and some who have fallen on hardships due to unfortunate circumstances”.
While its surge in use and demand has left the team slightly overwhelmed, Taylor highlights the impact that has been made from the public’s help to keep them afloat:
“Unfortunately, with the increase in demand we are fearful that we are unable to keep up with it. However, each year we have filled all requests due to people’s generosity.
The main reason that we have been successful is due to people donating to us, from families to groups of colleagues donating instead of doing Secret Santa. This year we have had extra help from volunteers who are working as area contacts spreading the word and getting people on board.”
To get involved with the Night Before Christmas Campaign, donations can be made in the form of a giftbox for a child (0-18 years), a giftbox for an adult (18 and over), and/or a bag pack filled with items for the homeless.
The team will be hosting a Christmas Wrapping event on Friday, 6 December at Dundonald Castle & Visitor Centre starting at 7pm for anyone to attend to help pack donations with the option to also bring donations along.