Falkirk’s Howgate want to help Santa spread Christmas cheer to youngsters

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Spreading Christmas cheer to disadvantaged youngsters has been an annual project for everyone involved with the Howgate shopping centre.

Over the years, staff, retailers and shoppers have all given generously to the festive Gift Appeal.

Hundreds of children and teenagers have enjoyed the magic of Christmas thanks to their efforts.

The campaign is now in its 16th year and once again The Falkirk Herald is proud to support the initiative to help those who without these gifts could be waking up to no presents on December 25.

Sadly, in 2019 there are even more families struggling to make ends meet and they have difficulty providing enough food, far less the added pressure of providing toys and gifts for their children.

And that’s why the Howgate’s Gift Appeal is so vital – who wants to think of a little boy or girl waking up on Christmas morning to an empty stocking or no gift at the end of their bed.

Falkirk Bairns and the communities of Grangemouth, Denny, Larbert, Bonnybridge, Bo’ness and all the other villages are known for their generosity and desire to help others.

Last year saw the largest number of gifts donated and in 2019 everyone involved with the appeal is hoping that there can be even more, as the numbers of those in need continue to rise.

Santa Claus joined Howgate marketing manager Margaret Foy and other staff to launch the appeal this week.

Margaret said: “For years shoppers have shown huge generosity by donating a gift which is then given to a disadvantaged child.

“The Appeal has brought Christmas goodwill to hundreds of children in our community and we know that this year, Falkirk shoppers will once again show their kindness by thinking of others in difficult situations.”

Working with Falkirk Council’s social work services and other local charities and organisations, the Howgate coordinate the gift giving by collecting the toys and presents at its Help Desk.

Margaret added: “Over the years we have developed strong partnerships with local companies and customers who donate every years which is fantastic to see. We know what a difference the gesture makes to children who otherwise would go without.

“We receive lots of gifts for younger children but we require even more for older children aged nine to 17 years so any present for these age groups would be really appreciated.”

She suggested that gift cards either for the Howgate, other retailers or Cineworld would be ideal.

“Previously, a few local companies have organised a staff collection as their community initiative at Christmas and gave us the cash which meant we were able to give these kids gift cards, which is actually what they want as they can buy their own things.”

Once an army of helpers have wrapped all the gifts, the relevant agencies ensure that they are distributed in plenty of time before December 25 to ensure that all the children know the joy of Christmas.

If you would like to help, please purchase a gift for either a boy or girl from birth to 17 years of age. Hand it unwrapped in to the Howgate Help Desk located opposite Dorothy Perkins by Sunday December 15.