It should be a cracker of a Christmas for hundreds of needy families in Preston this year, thanks to the “phenomenal” generosity of people in the city.
Santa will deliver sacks of surprise toys to under-privileged children tonight. And the same youngsters will be spared a hungry Christmas Day tomorrow because of big-hearted Lancashire folk.
The Salvation Army’s festive appeal for food and presents, backed by the Evening Post, has hit new heights at a time when poverty and homelessness are doing the same.
“This is the biggest response we have ever had,” said Major Maggie Cadogan at the charity’s city headquarters in Harrington Street. “We want to say a massive ‘thank you’ to the wonderful people of the Preston area for their incredible support.
“I’m sure everyone who has donated will be delighted to know they have made a big difference for someone this Christmas.”
The Salvation Army Food Bank has been stacked from floor to ceiling with donated goods from individuals, families and businesses, including some of the big supermarket chains.
An estimated 600 Christmas food parcels have gone out to the city’s disadvantaged. On top of that, more than 220 families with children will get presents gift-wrapped with love from the more fortunate in society.
With many more being helped by churches and charities like the Foxton Centre in Avenham, it really will be the season of goodwill in Preston over the next couple of days.
“The need for food aid this year has increased dramatically as many more people find themselves in difficulties,” said Maggie. “A lot of the people we help are in the situation where they might have to choose between heating and eating. If they have children then putting food on the table comes before buying Christmas presents.
“It’s tough for many and the changes to the welfare system this year have only made it tougher. The benefits situation has had a massive effect - it has hit people really hard.
“We estimate we have handed out 50 per cent more food parcels this Christmas than we did last year.
“When you have to decide whether you can afford to put the fire on, or cook a meal, then you really are struggling. And there seem to be a lot more struggling today than needed help 12 months ago.
“Christmas is probably the worst time of the year for families with children because on top of everything else the children are at home for a couple of weeks and are therefore not having a free school meal every day.
“Fortunately the people of this area are very caring and there will be hundreds of needy who will have a better Christmas this year thanks to their generosity.”