When freelance advertising accounts director Debbie Shinton and her friend, photographer, art director and stylist, East Lothian-based Amanda Farnese Heath, felt “moved” by when they saw what was going on in Afghanistan, they decided to pool their efforts.
The result is the pair’s Scotland Chooses Love online auction, going live on Saturday, with all proceeds being passed on to the refugee charity Choose Love.
“Seeing all of the beautiful auction lots has underlined how fortunate we are to live in Scotland and to be able to enjoy these luxuries in our life,” says Ms Shinton.
“It's really a stark contrast to the current situation in Afghanistan and the challenges that those who have fled their home now face."
The pair have had an overwhelming response from hospitality.
Ms Shinton said: “We were both drawn to Choose Love as it's a forward thinking, modern charitable organisation that seems to think a little differently to a lot of other traditional charities.
“We were reassured that on dedicated fundraising campaigns like their current one to support Afghan refugees, 100 per cent of proceeds – after the payment gateway takes a small commission – go to the work on the ground and none of the money raised goes to cover overheads, as they use private donors and proceeds from GiftAid to cover this”.
Using their social media contacts, the pair put the call out for potential lots and were amazed by the response from Scottish independent businesses.
They’ve procured a huge box of soap from Dook, original paintings, a holiday in a tree-house, and yoga sessions, as well as plenty of interesting prizes for food lovers.
There’s even a tour of Blackthorn Salt Tower in Ayr, an Ooni pizza oven and dinner for six cooked in your own home by private chef Steve Brown (of We Are Pop), complete with matching wines from L'Art du Vin.
As well as their own Scotland Chooses Love T-shirt, the auction site will feature over 70 lots, more than half of which are food-related.
“What was most interesting was that the majority weren't from large corporate companies, big hotels or famous restaurants, but from lots of hidden Scottish gems,” Ms Shinton says.
“[There were] a whole host of small businesses and one man/woman companies, so many have come from the hospitality industry,” she says.
"It's so humbling that businesses who have struggled over the last 18 months just to survive don't hesitate to help others. I think that the spirit of helping those in need has really come to the fore during these difficult times”.
The auction is planned to close on October 9.
“We're hoping to raise at least £3,000, although with Scottish people being as generous as they are, it could definitely go beyond that,” says Ms Shinton.