This Army aims to ensure we all have a merrier Christmas

Music will play a key part in the Salvation Army's Christmas celebrations
Music will play a key part in the Salvation Army's Christmas celebrations

Maurice says he doesn’t know what he would have done without the help and support of the Salvation Army.

The Grangemouth man has been a regular at the Falkirk drop-in service since his life hit rock bottom following his mother’s death.

But the Sally Army’s support has helped him overcome his grief.

“I had been living with my mum when she passed away and I came up to the Salvation Army drop-in for a bit of support,” Maurice said.

“The volunteer community support workers were incredible. They took me to my mum’s funeral and made sure I was okay.

“Really I can’t thank them enough.

“I have epilepsy and so I rely on the support of people like the co-ordinators and Salvation Army volunteers.

“It’s very much a community church and I enjoy coming to the drop-in and to the services on a Sunday, especially if the band is playing.

“It really gives me a lift if I’m feeling down.”

For many local people, just like Maurice, the Salvation Army provides year-long or short term advice, help and support.

Right now, the Christian charity is mobilising its officers to help hundreds of vulnerable and isolated people this Christmas.

Through its present appeal, emergency food provisions, Christmas Day lunch, drug and alcohol supports and music and carolling events, it aims to make sure that everyone is happy this festive season.

Leaders of the community churches in Falkirk, Maddiston, Stenhousemuir and Bo’ness are busy encouraging people to add an extra toy to their shopping list so that every Christmas tree can have a small surprise underneath it.

The Christmas present appeal, which launched in Falkirk in 1998, is hoping to benefit more than 400 children this year.

Fresh food parcels, put together from the proceeds of carolling and Falkirk Foodbank, will also be distributed to families and people referred by local social workers and agencies.

Last year, the Sally Army distributed gifts to more than 400 children and 200 food packages to families.This year, presents will be distributed on December 22.

Territorial Envoy Jane Kemp, who leads the Salvation Army’s Falkirk community church, can’t wait for the big day.

She said: “I’ve been told that the Christmas event on the 22nd is like nothing I will have experienced before.

“If you have children, grandchildren or children you support, think of what they mght like in their Christmas stocking.

“Please consider buying an extra present and donating it to us. There is a huge need for these gifts.”

The sound of the Salvation Army is synonymous with Christmas and its musicians will also be spreading the joy of the festive season.

Today (Thursday) bands from Falkirk and Maddiston community churches will be playing at Debenhams in the Howgate from 4pm as part of a nationwide partnership with the retailer.

Shoppers will get the chance to donate to the present appeal while enjoying the music.

Pupils from Comely Park Primary School will join members of Falkirk Salvation Army at a community carol evening concert at the centre in Woodside Court on December 5, while the Stenhousemuir community carol concert is scheduled for December 18.

On the big day itself, the Army is providing a three-course meal for anyone who needs and wants it.

A Christmas Day lunch will be held at 12.30pm in Falkirk‘s community church for people who would otherwise be alone, and, already, 40 people are expected to attend the annual feast.

A festive meal for people of all ages and backgrounds will also be held in Bo’ness community church from 1.30pm on Christmas Day.

Despite the festivities, the everyday work continues.

Campbell McDermid is the drop-in co-ordinator at Falkirk Salvation Army who also works in an outreach capacity.

He said: “I do whatever is needed for people.

“I’m out on the streets in the morning and I’ll go to court or hospital and doctors’ appointments too.

“I always have my Salvation Army red baseball cap on. Everyone remembers it and recognises me for it.”

* Anyone interested in donating gifts for the Christmas present appeal can drop them off at any Salvation Army church, shop or centre.