Overwhelming response for 2014 Gift Tree appeal

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A massive thank you has been issued to the folk of North Aberdeenshire after giving so generously to the 2014 Gift Tree appeal.

The appeal, running in Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff and surrounding areas, had food hampers made up for families and individuals in most need of support for the first time.

Ricky Sheaffe-Greene

Ricky Sheaffe-Greene

Members of the public and many North-east businesses managed to provide more than 800 referrals with Gift Tree assistance to the tune of around £25,000 in terms of gifts and food support.

The food hampers were made-up with non-perishable items, toiletries and fresh fruit and vegetables provided through donations from individuals and foodbanks, together with funding from businesses and churches.

Meanwhile, the Gift Trees put up at key locations across Banff and Buchan were tremendously well-supported by local folk, community groups and businesses with thousands of gifts donated to cover every age group from newborn babies to young adults.

The partnership saw social workers, health visitors, Peterhead Projects and Fraserburgh Development Trust teams, Willowbank Day Centre, Aberdeenshire Council employees and other professionals working together with local businesses and community groups and volunteers to organise the appeal.

Fresh food was purchased from Community Food Initiatives North-east (CFINE) who also made regular donation pick-ups along with the team from 2ReUse.

Upon hearing of the food hamper addition to the Gift Tree scheme, staff, management and prisoners at HMP Grampian offered to pack the hampers and give them a bit of festive flair.

Once they had all been boxed up, oil logistics company ASCO provided a truck free of charge to deliver to collection points courtesy of Mapco in Peterhead and Fraserburgh Fishmarket – again all without charge.

Peterhead Projects development manager Ken Duncan explained: “Everyone is finding that they have less money in their pocket this year but the partners have been amazed by the number of donations being made to this project.

“Thanks to the kindness of our communities more than 300 Christmas hampers and more than 600 individual children and young people had a happier Christmas.

“The project reminds me that people do care about each other and the community Christmas spirit is alive and well in Aberdeenshire.”

Simon Bedford, Peterhead Projects’ Here For You social regeneration development officer, said: “The Gift Tree appeal has been a tremendous success thanks to the support and generosity of North-east residents and businesses.

“From donations of gifts, food items and financial support from North-east businesses, the annual initiative makes a significant difference to the lives of those most in need during the festive period.

“I would like to thank all those who donated for their generosity and all partner agencies, volunteers and colleagues for their hard work in ensuring the 2014 appeal was such a success.”

His Fraserburgh counterpart Ricky Sheaffe-Greene added: “The Gift Tree is a great example of Community teamwork, involving partners and people across this north east corner. It shows what can be achieved with cooperation, volunteers and commitment, combined with the kindness and generosity of local people. It has helped a great many people at what can be, for some, a testing time of year.”

Meanwhile, the local community is being encouraged to make its views known on the Gift Tree project by completing an online survey to enable the partners to evaluate the project and make required changes for the 2015 initiative.

There are surveys for both the Fraserburgh and Peterhead catchments, but if you were involved in both areas organisers would appreciate if you could complete both. The survey is completed anonymously:

Peterhead - www.surveymonkey.com/s/PeterheadGiftTree

Fraserburgh - www.surveymonkey.com/s/FraserburghGiftTree .