A KILBIRNIE charity worker, who started a Christmas appeal to help needy children, was overjoyed when local people donated over 200 presents.

James Smith, who is chairperson at Hillhead Pets Corner and Outdoor Learning Centre, recently became an ambassador for the Scottish charity Children 1st and decided to appeal to members of the local community to donate gifts for vulnerable kids – but he didn’t expect to get such momentous support.

James told the Herald: “I was appointed a few months ago as an ambassador for Children 1st and I thought about doing something for Christmas. I thought about Christmas gift bags and toys that could go to the children. I thought we would maybe get about 20-25 gifts but we ended up getting over 200! It was only over two weeks and in such a small area as well. 

“I had said to people not to go anywhere over £10, that a couple of wee toys would be fine, because people have got their own families to buy for. But I know some people were buying gifts that were worth a lot more. I got fabulous gifts from the generous people of the Garnock Valley.

“Not everyone can afford it and they have their own presents to buy and yet they still did this. It’s so nice. People have been so kind.”
The gift bags James received were donated to families across the west of Scotland in time for Christmas. 

James said: “All the gifts went to children who really needed them and I know they genuinely did make a lot of children smile. I was in tears so many times. I am just overwhelmed at all this generosity.”

"Over 200 people donated to this and that’s just the people in the Garnock Valley – could you imagine if it was the whole of Scotland?

“I didn’t expect that many gifts. It was just overwhelming, it’s absolutely amazing.”