This year has been one of the toughest in living memory for many people around the world.
Sport has suffered during the coronavirus pandemic, with events cancelled, spectators locked out and clubs and governing bodies struggling with the financial consequences.
However, sport’s ability to lift spirits and help communities has been as apparent as ever.
Here, the PA news agency looks at five heart-warming Scottish football stories amid the gloom.
Celtic FC Foundation hands out more than £1million
The club’s charity wing has delivered food, essentials and mental health support to thousands of families, individuals, pensioners, the homeless and NHS frontline staff, raising more than £1m since its Football For Good fund was launched on March 20.
Steve Clarke’s boost for cancer patient
Terminal cancer patient Willie Thomson received a private video message from the Scotland boss after a photograph of him celebrating Euro 2020 qualification in Strathcarron Hospice was sent to the SFA. The 79-year-old’s reaction highlighted how the team’s achievements can lift people, even someone who was living the final weeks of his life.
Motherwell save Christmas
After North Lanarkshire Council scrapped the annual Christmas lights tradition amid budget constraints, Motherwell stepped in with a business partner to put up the lights in the town and neighbouring Wishaw. Chairman Jim McMahon said: “During these challenging and unusual times, we hope that seeing the lights can bring community spirit and a sense of normality to people in our local area.”
Philanthropy comes to Scottish football’s aid
Edinburgh-based investment manager James Anderson gave the game a huge shot in the arm with an initial donation worth more than £3m to help SPFL clubs and the league’s charity trust. Anderson made further substantial six-figure donations for women’s football and the youth ranks and an anonymous associate then pledged more than £1m to help clubs’ community trusts.
Prize-winning charitable work continues
SPFL clubs maintained their focus on helping communities with thousands of people benefiting from festive hampers this month. Dundee United were among three clubs recognised by UEFA for their community trust’s impact in the local area.