Gift Tree project gets a helping hand from prison

Martin Youngson and Devon Harvey, pictured with officer Colin Blackburn, are two of the prisoners helping to pack the Gift Tree food hampers and supporting the project with their own purchased donations.
Martin Youngson and Devon Harvey, pictured with officer Colin Blackburn, are two of the prisoners helping to pack the Gift Tree food hampers and supporting the project with their own purchased donations.

The 2014 Gift Tree project operating in Peterhead, Fraserburgh and across Buchan has been lent a festive hand by HMP and YOI Grampian.

As part of this year’s Gift Tree appeal, local residents, groups and businesses have been generously donating a range of non-perishable food items for hampers.

Upon hearing of the new addition to the Gift Tree scheme, staff, management and prisoners at the new state-of-the-art prison offered to pack the hampers and give them a bit of festive flair.

Rozanne McCurrach, unit manager of offender outcomes at HMP Grampian, explained: “There has been fantastic local support shown for the Gift Tree appeal and very much being a community-facing prison we felt we were ideally placed to help out with the hamper aspect.

“Our work parties have been busy over recent weeks wrapping up the boxes kindly donated by Donalds of Peterhead and packing them with the supply of food items supplied by the community.

“Staff and management have been hugely-impressed by the support and enthusiasm shown by the prisoners towards the Gift Tree appeal and we would like to thank them for their efforts.

“They have also been making their own donations to the appeal through selling Christmas decorations and food donation boxes which is again greatly appreciated.”

The festive food hamper scheme has seen the local community donating everything from tinned soups, meats, vegetables and puddings to sugar, teabags, rice and pasta.

Vital supplies such as toothpaste, shampoo, nappies and toilet rolls have also been coming in to support both individuals and families in need of support this Christmas.

CFINE – Community Food Initiatives North-east – will be supplying fresh fruit and vegetables at the last minute for inclusion in the hampers.

With the team from 2ReUse initially collecting food donations from Gift Tree hosts, CFINE have then been delivering them up to the prison.

Simon Bedford, social regeneration development officer with the Here for You partnership, said: “There has been a fantastic response to this year’s Gift Tree from a very early stage and I would like to thank all our hosts, partner agencies and the community of Peterhead for that ongoing support.

“Such an appeal relies on partnership working and we are very fortunate to have had HMP and YOI Grampian coming on board to help us to such a degree.”

Meanwhile, you can still make food hamper and gift donations at an array of Gift Tree hosts across Buchan.

Members of the public are being asked to select a tag from one of the trees then buy just one extra gift during their Christmas shopping up to the value of £10 be it a toy, book, game, toiletries or local business gift card for vulnerable children.

Outlets supporting the Buchan scheme this year are as follows:

2ReUse, The Trading Post, Morrisons, Asda, Peterhead Community Centre, Peterhead Library, The Hotspot, The Happy Plant Garden and Gift Centre at Mintlaw, Maud Resource Centre, Shell and Total at St Fergus, Aberdeenshire Council at Arbuthnot House, Salvation Army, ApexCentre, Nexus, Peterhead Old Parish Church, Peterhead Congregational Church, Zion Tabernacle and Meethill School.