Community serves up festive spirit

Joey McGinnes.
Joey McGinnes.

The people of Penicuik are coming together to provide a Christmas experience for those most vulnerable in the community during the festive period.

The Food, Friends and Facts foodbank is pulling out all the stops to provide free Christmas dinners at St Mungo’s Church on December 23.

With a welcome funding boost from ASDA, the foodbank is hoping to give some Christmas cheer to those who need it most and volunteers from the local area have enlisted to make the event a memorable one.

The Army has also stepped in to help with the cooking.

The hope is that people who are lonely, alone, or finding it hard because of circumstances over the festive period can share some Christmas spirit and feel that there are people who care.

Mark Wells, who runs the foodbank, said that people from all walks of life will be helping.

“ASDA came forward and said they would give me some money if I put on a Christmas lunch,” he explained.

“They are giving us £480 to put it on because they want to help people over Christmas. A singer came forward and said she’ll give up her time to sing for the people coming in and Glecourse Army Barracks are going to be cooking my turkeys for me and bringing them along.

“I put it up on Facebook and I’ve been flooded by people getting in touch asking how they can help. A lot of people in the community have offered their services.”

And the list of volunteers is not just limited to adults.

Joey McGinnes, an 11 year old who attends Cuiken Primary School, was among those who noticed the advert and got involved.

Mark said: “A little boy’s mum came to me and said he wanted to put a smile on people’s faces.

“He’s out at the moment collecting food and making them into hampers. This means everyone who comes in for a Christmas lunch will get a hamper from an 11-year-old boy.”

Mark was inspired to start the foodbank after finding himself in a similar situation to those who will be attending on Christmas Day.

“I’ve been in this state myself,” he admitted. “When we moved from Aberdeen to live in Edinburgh, all my benefit was stopped and we went into debt. We had no food in the cupboards and I had to be referred to the foodbank.”

The event starts at noon and finishes at 4pm. Those attending might also get a surprise visit from Santa himself.

People from the Glencourse Centre have been out collecting money and gifts, meaning Santa might not be coming empty handed.

Free tickets can be booked by phoning Mark on 07507697109 or by popping in to the church.