A Newtongrange man has spent the last year collecting donations from local businesses to pass on to those in need in the local community.
Gary Whittle, who runs pet sitting business Pet Helpers Scotland, collects and donates take aways and food to locals in need and also bread and milk or other essentials for the winter. He has now purchased musical instruments to donate to Southhouse Young People’s Centre.
Gary explained why he started helping others: “A lot of people I work with are vulnerable. When you are doing dog walking you become friends with people and get a window into their lives. It was not much of a hardship to me to do this, and it makes a big difference to people.
“I don’t really have a name for it. I have got a network of clients in Midlothian and if I hear about people needing help I look into helping. It’s all very sort of off the cuff.
“With the bad weather early last year I realised I had a lot of down time because obviously I couldn’t take dogs out. I saw these people un-mobilised because of the snow.
“You see more and more appeals these days. I saw a nursing home in Bonnyrigg looking for a park bench so I looked in to it and got them one.”
Gary spoke of the importance of his latest donation.
He said: “I was in care as a kid and I thought about the kids at Southouse. With music you can lose yourself for a bit and forget about problems you are having.
“It doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything extra, just helping people I know. If everyone made a tiny effort it would make a big difference for people. If you are running a business you count on the community, so it’s nice to give back.
“If any businesses want to donate we put a post on our Facebook page for them. To give them recognition. We have got a nice local following.”
To get involved go to www.facebook.com/PetHelpersScotland/