The goodie bags are intended to be opened the night before the big day to get Christmas off to a toasty and tasty start - in a year when many families in the borough may struggle for seasonal luxuries.
So far, 550 pairs of pyjamas have been donated to South Ribble’s Big Christmas Sleepover - but the caring Crostonians want to keep that count rising with one last push as they approach the final week of their campaign.
Colette McCann, one of the villagers behind the idea, says that she was inspired by her own two children’s positive experience of the first lockdown earlier this year and the Christmas they can look forward to - and a desire to show them that not everybody is so fortunate.
“Croston is a beautiful place and most people here are comfortable. When I was furloughed over the summer, I could take my children on lovely long walks to areas of green space that are right on our doorstep.
“But I don’t want them to exist in their own bubble - I want them to see what real life is like for many people outside a pretty village like ours.
“My eight-year-old son has been helping to put the bags together, because I want him to be aware of what he can do to help others,” Colette explained.
According to those trying to combat the worst effects of poverty in the borough, such help is needed more than ever - because of the hardship that the pandemic has heaped on those already facing financing difficulties.
Joan Musker from Leyland’s Wade Hall Community Association - one of the groups distributing the donations - says that Covid has spread deprivation as well as disease, meaning that items like pyjamas may be more of a necessity than a luxury.
“Poverty has always been there, of course, but it’s affecting more people this year and some people even more deeply than it already was.
“There are so many who have been laid off or furloughed - so we are trying to help in any way we can and also put a smile on people’s faces,” Joan said.
The pyjamas and gifts generated by the Croston fundraisers will be combined with items already secured by the ongoing efforts of the community organisations that will be handing them out - Wade Hall, The Base in Broadfield and Moss Side Community Centre.
Fifty Christmas Eve bags are also being prepared for children living in refuges in the area.
Some of the gift selections will also contain a bell, so that young people across the borough can join in with the nationwide Christmas Eve Jingle, which will see people encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 6pm to ring in the season of goodwill after the grimmest of years.
And it is thanks to the generosity of their own community that many families in South Ribble might have a happier start to the festivities than they otherwise might have done.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
South Ribble’s Big Christmas Sleepover would like to receive yet more pyjamas - particularly adult sizes for older teens - ahead of its final collection day on 12th December. A list of drop-off points - and postal options - can be found at: facebook.com/southribblebigchristmassleepover
The group is also calling for donations of toys and gifts for children and young people - and the elderly - to be made to Wade Hall Community Association and The Base on Broadfield, both in Leyland. Opening times and contact details can be found on their respective Facebook pages.
For any further information, contact: [email protected]
Colette says that the response to the appeal from across the borough and beyond has been “unbelievable”.
“I never thought for a second that it would do as well as it has.
“We have had contributions from individuals and schools - as well as Progress Housing, Weightmans Solicitors and £500 worth of pyjamas from Communication Workers' Union Humanitarian Aid.
“I just want to say a big thank you to everybody who has contributed so far.”