If you had one Christmas wish, what would it be? Ask most youngsters what they want for Christmas and the majority will tell you they’d like some form of technological gadget, a bike maybe, or the latest fashion trends.
When nine-year-old Callum Smith’s mum Lynnsay asked him, like other children his age he wanted a Pokemon Moon game. But that was it – anything else Santa was bringing him was to go to poorer children who aren’t as lucky as him to have a family and a home.
Kind-hearted Callum from Larbert, who has a twin brother Jack and little sister Ava (6), is a precocious and caring young man despite having learning difficulties.
Lynnsay, a student nurse, says Callum is deeply affected whenever he sees homeless people or anyone in need and “wants to bring them all home” with them.
She said: “He really hates seeing people worse off than him and just wants to help them. It’s hard sometimes trying to explain to him that we can’t bring people home with us, or help everyone in society, but it won’t stop him trying. It just breaks his little heart.”
To help Callum help others, Lynnsay asked staff at Falkirk Foodbank, run by the Trussell Trust, if he could go there and volunteer his services this week and the foodbank welcomed him on Monday with a dozen other regular volunteers who give up their time to take care of the logistical duties needed to get food parcels to those who need them.
Since April the foodbank has fed 4452 people – 1385 of them children – with a parcel that lasts for five days. Last year 6068 people – including 1773 youngsters – depended on the service to provide meals for them.
Stock it has collected this month alone totals more than 4175kg.
Since it opened in 2012, the foodbank has given out 243 tons of food to hard-up families and individuals throughout the Falkirk district.
In his element, an enthusiastic Callum picked out food orders from the shelves and made up parcels for families and individuals who are referred to the centre in Tamfourhill Industrial Estate from welfare organisations such as social services.
Lynnsay added: “We’ve been out and about in the last few months and Callum had noticed quite a few homeless people and was quite touched by it. He wanted to help everyone he saw, understand why people were homeless or weren’t as lucky as him to have a family and a home.
“He was really concerned and really touched by it. Afterwards, when we were doing his Christmas list the only thing he asked for was a Pokemon game and he wanted to help homeless people and those not as lucky or fortunate as him.
“It makes him feel really sad that there are homeless and poor people. All he wants to do is help and he has been so excited about coming up to the foodbank ever since he found out.”
Callum, a pupil at Stenhousemuir Primary School, said: “It makes me really sad and makes me cry sometimes, but I try to keep my tears in. I really enjoyed working at the foodbank and hopefully I can come back again.”
All year round
The Falkirk Herald’s foodbank day as part of our Help Feed a Family campaign collected in 137.3kg of food to donate to Falkirk Foodbank last Thursday.
Staff from the foodbank said many more businesses donated collections this month and are appealing for people to donate to the centre regularly to help others survive hard times.
Last year the centre collected in just under 70 tons of food, but was able to give out almost 75 tons thanks to its rolling stock.
Chairman Alistair Blackstock said: “We appreciate everything that the public do for us. We’re lucky that we have a home, a roof over our heads, heating and a nice meal at Christmas, but it’s not just about Christmas, we’re her 52 weeks of the year.
“Most people live in relative luxury compared to others. There’s people who have lost their jobs, can’t afford their mortgage or rent, people on 48-hour contracts who might not have work to go to next week meaning no wages.
“All these people come here and I feel honoured to be able to do this, we’re here to help people as best as we can. In a rich society like ours we shouldn’t need foodbanks but they go back through the generations right through to Biblical times and the same situation is portrayed through the world.”
He added: “I suppose it is an embarrassment that we have to do this in Britain but it is a pleasure to help people if you can, especially at this time of the year, but I would like people to think 52 weeks of the year.
“We’re feeding nearly 7000 people a year, it’s a lot of people. One third of that 7000 are children and that shouldn’t be, but we are well supported by businesses and people. We also help save a lot of food from going to landfill so there’s an environmental aspect and it saves them money in landfill tax as well.”