The Salvation Army is putting out a Christmas gift appeal for people who may have no one to give them presents this year.
The Christian organisation is looking for either presents or cash donations to help them buy presents for people who may be alone at Christmas or families who cannot afford to buy presents for their children.
In the past, the Christmas gift appeal has been very strongly focused on children, but Salvation Army officer Rachel Baker said that idea this year was to greatly broaden the appeal to embrace old people who may have no one or perhaps young men who are isolated from their families through causes like substance abuse.
Rachel said that Christmas was often a difficult time of year for people who may experience increased feelings of loneliness and isolation or deeper sadness at the loss of a loved one.
She added: “It is important for me to do this for people who are alone and a bit sad and lonely. It is always a bit sad at Christmas when everyone is supposed to be having a good time. I would like this to spread God’s love to everyone.
“Now we are trying to widen it out to take in all sectors of the community.”
People who want to donate presents can leave them at the Salvation Army at 45 North Road, Tesco, Toll Clock Shopping Centre or the tourist information centre at the Market Cross. Donations can also be sent to the Salvation Army who will use them to buy presents, something that might be useful for folk who want to help but seldom visit Lerwick..
People may choose to wrap their own presents, as long as they say what’s in them! But parents of children receiving them will probably want to wrap presents themselves and paper will be supplied for this purpose. Gift tokens for specific uses are also welcome, such as book and music tokens or food vouchers that might treat an old person to a cup of coffee or other treat they might not buy for themselves.
Sumburgh Airport will also have its gift tree where people can purchase ticketed gifts and then either hand them back at the airport or hand them in at the Salvation Army, Tesco or Bolts for distribution.
Of course, recipients will be referred by the social work department or other third sector agency. Rachel says that there is a very real need for the effort and she’d received a call from a concerned person saying one 72-year-old woman would have no one to give her a gift this Christmas.
Appropriate gifts for old people might include dressing gowns, pyjamas, slippers, nice smelling products or book and music tokens as well as other food and gift vouchers, perhaps allowing them to get things they would not otherwise afford.
Children also need items like clothing, pyjamas and other practicalities as well as the more obvious toys and games.
As well as this, the Salvation Army will be staging carol singing events and will put a film showing on at the headquarters between Christmas and New Year, that might allow people who are under pressure at home to have a bit of an escape.