Clydesdale appeal is Christmas cracker!

Mary (right) and New Beginnings volunteers with some of the donations for this year's appeal. (Picture Sarah Peters).
Mary (right) and New Beginnings volunteers with some of the donations for this year's appeal. (Picture Sarah Peters).

Over 150 children all over Clydesdale will wake up on Christmas morning to find that Santa has been – thanks to the New Beginnings toy appeal.

The charity this year received pleas to provide toys for 160 youngsters, and the generous response to the short appeal meant it was able to help them all.

Scores of families will also receive the makings of a Christmas dinner, with trimmings such as crackers.

The biggest appeal was for new toys, for children of all ages, and gifts for teenagers.

“The response has been fabulous,” said Mary McLellan, convener of New Beginnings, a charity set up to provide homeless people with basics household goods as they move into accommodation.

“We have had all the toys we have needed, all the books we have needed and all the food we have needed, and financial donations have come in too.”

The charity is based at the Lodge in Kilmory Road, Carluke, but for December took over the Bridge Cafe off St Leonard Street in Lanark as well.

Tesco also stepped in to help, with trolleys in its store in Carluke and Lanark, where donations could be left.

The appeal closed on Friday, but even before then the New Beginnings volunteers were hard at work, sorting out the toys and arranging them into Santa sacks for individual children.

Mary was again overwhelmed by the kindness and enthusiasm for the appeal.

“Lanark Primary gave us amazing donations and there were amazing donations from the local churches,” said Mary, singling out Christ Church and Greyfriars in Lanark, and Kirkton in Carluke.

Lanark Round Table was very generous, while staff in the housing and social work departments of the council offices in South Vennel, and NHS workers also made huge donations.

New Beginnings also had requests for presents for young adults, over 100 of them, and although that was not the main aim of the Christmas appeal, the volunteers had managed to come up with something.

“We have been able to give them each a small gift,” said Mary, adding modestly: “We do our best.”

Referrals come from organisations such as Citizens Advice and Money Matters, health visitors, and other individuals working with the families.

When the Gazette dropped in on Friday, volunteers were sorting out hundreds of toys downstairs, but an upstairs room was “bursting” with Santa sacks filled for children, a roll of wrapping paper helpfully sticking from the top of each, and already the first batches had been taken away for delivery.

In another room upstairs volunteers filled food parcels with tins, dried food, and the fun extras such as sweets and crackers, and these too will be going out this week to make sure that families struggling a bit at the moment can have a hot festive dinner.

“We started to deliver yesterday, so a lot of the deliveries have already been made by the volunteer drivers,” said Mary.

“We owe a huge thanks to everyone in the Clydesdale area and beyond it who has donated to us.

“But this would not happen without the wonderful volunteers we have got.

“We have a small group, but they work their socks off!”