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‘The best thank you is the smile on someone’s face’: Rotary club expands Christmas hamper campaign

Mark Sutherland-Fisher, of Tain and Easter Ross Rotary Club, with some of the donations received so far for this year's hamper appeal

A Ross-shire rotary club is expanding its annual festive campaign to reach even more families.

Every year Tain and Easter Ross Rotary Club collect food and drink donations and create hampers for people across the local community.

But with more families than ever needing support, members have decided to expand their reach and will be sharing the festive cheer as far north as Dornoch and as far south as Evanton.

Chris Grant is the vice-president of the Tain and Easter Ross Rotary Club, and admitted it was sad to be receiving so many requests for help.

“I think it’s quite a sad state of affairs,” he said. “We’ve been getting messages from families saying they’ve seen the appeal and they really need our help.

“We fear there is still a large proportion of people out there who are struggling through but are going to be struggling again during the festive period. That’s why we decided we need to up our game this year.”

The Christmas hamper campaign

Yesterday, The Press and Journal, Evening Express and Original 106 launched its Big Christmas Food Appeal, which aims to highlight the difficulties families are facing and encourage people to do what they can to support.

Figures released by Cfine – our campaign partners – revealed they had handed out the equivalent of 3.1 million meals across the north of Scotland over the last 18 months.

The rotary club is appealing for donations of non-perishable food and drink, although no alcohol can be accepted. They are keen however to include some festive treats so all families have something extra special to enjoy over Christmas.

Mr Grant said: “It’s a great time of year for many people but it’s a horrendous time for others, so we’re trying to add different things in the hampers also.

“We’re not just looking for the cheaper supermarket own brand things, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we want to give people something a bit more luxurious and tasty.”

This year, the club has also been working with supermarkets and larger businesses to add some extra treats to the hampers, with Tesco and Asda donating 100 selection boxes.

Members are also hoping to have some vouchers to include from larger companies, like Timpsons, so that families can have an extra treat that’s not just food and drink.

Christmas is a wonderful time for most families, a time when they can meet up, have fun, exchange presents and enjoy…

Posted by Rotary Club of Tain and Easter Ross on Wednesday, 17 November 2021

‘If you can bring happiness to one person then brilliant’

The rotary club is hoping to make 40 to 50 hampers this year, all beautifully presented and finished with a bow.

It is keen to emphasise that the details of anyone who comes to them for help will be kept confidential, and that members are happy to work with parents to organise delivery so their children don’t see them.

Mr Grant added: “It might be families want to get one but don’t want their kids to see where they’ve got it from because they’re embarrassed. We want to take that away and just be there for them.”

He is looking forward to delivering the hampers, and said the positive impact they have on people is huge.

He said: “You want to see the smile on their face when you deliver it. It just makes it so worthwhile. People keep saying thank you, but the best thank you you can get is the smile on someone’s face.

“It’s all about giving someone a little something different. This last 18 months have been rubbish for so many people with Covid, people losing jobs, people passing away and it just makes you think if you can bring happiness to one person then brilliant.”

How to donate

The Tain and Easter Ross Rotary Club is accepting donations until Tuesday, November 30.

People can deliver donations to any of their drop-off points:

  • Cafe Tomich, Invergordon
  • Crazy Horse, Invergordon
  • Easter Ross Vets, Invergordon
  • Alness New Pharmacy, Alness
  • Easter Ross Vets, Alness
  • Royal Hotel, Tain
  • Meikle Ferry Caravan Park

Rotarians can collect donations from homes and businesses if people get in touch on social media. There is also a JustGiving page set up.

Mr Grant praised the response so far, adding: “I think people in the community are now realising that some people are much better off than others.

“There are those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic or people who just can’t afford it, that’s when you start to think you’re lucky.

“We just want to keep going, we want to get as many out there as possible, the more the merrier.”

For more information, or to get involved with The Big Christmas Food Appeal, click here.

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