Could you imagine your child waking up to no presents under the tree on Christmas Day?
It’s very easy to forget what Christmas really stands for amid the commercialism during the festive period, but thankfully there are groups and individuals who are there to remind us.
Christmas is a time for family, for giving and thinking of others less fortunate than ourselves and there’s plenty of festive spirit going around the district if you pause for a minute and look around – it might even grab hold of you.
These are the traditions that make this time of year special. They come from a time when they really meant something, when spirituality – not just the festive spirit – took precedence at this time of year.
While church congregations are still going strong, the story of the Nativity isn’t something that is uppermost in many minds on Christmas Day when we’re tucking into the turkey, if we’re honest.
UK Christian charity and church The Salvation Army embodies the Christmas spirit through its range of work in local communities helping vulnerable people, including handing out emergency food parcels, meal runs, older people’s lunch clubs, drop-in sessions for homeless people, training for people with learning disabilities.
Internationally it also does disaster relief work in Haiti, Zambia, Kenya and Bangladesh.
In Falkirk, the charity’s Christmas Present Appeal is going strong with hundreds of presents sitting in its Woodside Court centre waiting to be delivered by Santa to families who will struggle to buy gifts for their children this year.
The charity is asking people to add an extra toy to their shopping list and hand it in to The Salvation Army to give kids who would go without a present something to wake up to.
Once they are wrapped, Salvationists will distribute the presents to children through the Army’s own networks, local groups and social services.
Husband and wife Salvation Army captains Peter and Suzanne Clark and church member Anne Haldane have been co-ordinating Falkirk’s campaign.
Peter said: “The appeal started here at the start of December and will finish on Monday. Through the likes of doctors, health visitors and Falkirk Council we have had around 200 referrals so it will make quite a difference this year.
“After the weekend the presents will be distributed to the families and children and people can still donate something up until Monday, except on Saturday, at our centre at Woodside.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have kindly dropped something off. Thanks to them they will make children smile on Christmas Day.”
Kind colleagues from the Certas Energy head office in Larbert showed their Christmas spirit by donating more than 100 toys to the Salvation Army appeal.
The idea came from telesales negotiator Lisa McKenzie who suggested her colleagues buy a gift for £15 instead of getting each other a Secret Santa and the response was overwhelming.
She said: “Like many companies, each year we take part in a Secret Santa where we buy a gift worth £15 for someone who doesn’t know who the present is from.
“This year I e-mailed everyone in the office to suggest that we spent our Secret Santa money on a gift for a child and donate it to charity and the response was really positive.
“Everyone who opted to take part brought their gift into the office on Monday, December 7. I then took the stack of presents to the Salvation Army last Thursday so they can distribute them to local children as part of their charity activity.
“I’m delighted with how generous everyone has been. Christmas is all about kids and the thought of some kids waking up on Christmas morning with nothing breaks my heart.
“Hopefully the amount of gifts we donated should help support up to 200 families in the area.”
The Salvation Army isn’t the only organisation making a difference as other local organisations use this time of year to help good causes.
For the past three decades members of the Rotary Club of Polmont have been going round communities in the Braes collecting for charities and community groups on a sleigh with Santa and his elves.
Press officer James Morris said: “It’s a great thrill for the kids and it’s a good opportunity to show them that Christmas is a time for giving and not just receiving.
“The generosity of people over the years has made this collection one of the biggest fund raisers of the year for our club – which all goes to help local people and local good causes.
The Rotary sleigh has two rounds to go. One is tonight (Thursday) in Culduie Circle/Eastcroft Drive/Greenpark Avenue/Fowler Place/Polmont Park, and the final one for this year will be at Laurieston Co-op on Saturday from 11am-5pm.