Every day, without fail, charities across the north and north-east make it their priority to help those in need across all walks of life.
Those unfaltering efforts have been no more important than during 2020, with the world living through a pandemic the likes of which generations have never seen before.
With Christmas fast approaching, the Press and Journal is giving some of our region’s most worthy causes a festive financial boost through a share of £5,000 which our readers will have a say in distributing.
The paper’s editor-in-chief Frank O’Donnell said: “This Christmas, more than any other, the Press and Journal feels a responsibility to bring hope, fun and light back into our communities.
“The charity sector is such a core part of supporting people through the festive season and in a small way our Tokens for Toys campaign will help support those charities at a difficult time.
“Rather than just picking one to benefit, we thought we would ask our readers who deserves to benefit the most. The process of helping you make your choice also allows us to highlight the important work these charities do.”
Chosen charities Befriend a Child in Aberdeen, Home-Start Aberdeen, the Denis Law Legacy Trust and Home-Start East Highland will each receive £1,000 each with remainder going to the group with the most votes.
The latter charity has already begun planning for a “very different” Christmas and preparing itself for a further demand for help going in 2021.
Natalie Shinwari, Home-Start East Highland’s general manager, said: “In the last year we have supported 110 families with 232 children and expect these numbers to increase in the coming year.
“As you can imagine, Covid-19 has hindered a lot of people in many different ways and Home-Start East Highland has been there throughout supporting families and assisting when needed with clothing, food, toys, vitamins, safety equipment and PPE as well as providing emotional support to allow families to manage during these uncertain times.
“We are already planning for a very different Christmas and are trying to support our families to ensure that, this year more than ever, that no child goes without so the Toys for Tokens incentive is going to go a long way in helping us make this happen.”
Aberdeen-based Befriend a Child supports school-aged youngsters across Aberdeen city and shire growing up in difficult circumstances.
Befriend a Child’s head of operations Jean Gordon, said: “Many of the families we support have a number of challenges in their lives, from financial struggles through to poor mental and physical health. Unfortunately it is some of the most disadvantaged families who have been hardest hit over the last six months.
“P&J’s Tokens for Toys will help bring the magic of Christmas to the families we support by ensuring that the children have presents to open on Christmas morning and activities to look forward to in 2021.
“I think we can all agree that this year has been tough, but it has been particularly difficult for the local children and families Befriend a Child support and we want to help alleviate some of those difficulties and give them a happy Christmas to remember.”
The Denis Law Legacy Trust, founded by the much-decorated and revered Aberdeen football legend of the same name, uses free-to-access sport to bring about confidence, independence and responsibility within young people in the city.
Kiana Coutts, streetsport outreach development officer there said: “We aim to reduce instances of youth crime and anti-social behaviour; promote health and wellbeing and encourage inclusivity through sport, physical activity and creative endeavour.
“The Denis Law Legacy Trust are extremely grateful to be part of the Press & Journal’s Token for Toys campaign. This year has been tough on everyone, so to be able to offer a small gift to participants will mean so much; helping us build on existing relationships and continue making a difference.”