FOR some people it can be the loneliest day of the year – but now a campaign has started to help spread Christmas goodwill to the Capital’s elderly.
Kirsty Smith, who lives in Leith and owns Sportsclinic on Henderson Street, is urging residents to donate festive gifts for pensioners in Leith who have no family, are house-bound or in care.
She was moved to start the campaign after her own grandmother died on Christmas Day
Miss Smith, 36, said: “I’ve always wanted to do something for the elderly. I don’t have any grandparents and only had my nana, who died on Christmas day years ago.
“Britain packages up boxes for the troops and people living in devastation in Africa, but at this time of year I feel our elderly are forgotten. Few people think of the wee lady around the corner or the older guy next door who may be on their own.
“We’re not asking for much, just a wee gift – something you can easily pick up in the pound shop but that will let someone know you care.”
Miss Smith’s gran Peggy Dunlevie died in 1996 when she was in her seventies, and she says Christmas has never quite been the same since.
The campaign, Looking after our Elderly, wants residents to give gifts such as hot water bottles, scarves, chocolates, toiletries, slippers and pyjamas – to help ensure the elderly in the area aren’t lonely at Christmas.
Drop-off points have been set up at locations in Leith, Portobello and Mayfield Road.
Gifts will be distributed by local churches and care homes, the Pilmeny Development group, and any other organisations that can lend a hand.
Miss Smith added: “It started off as a small gesture – something to give back personally. But, as I spoke to other people and realised how much they wanted to get involved, it snowballed. We have eight drop-off points now and the gifts are flooding in. I am bundling presents up into small gift packs to send through the distribution centres so that people can have something to open at Christmas. Anything we can give back helps. I’ve had lots of gifts, but we do need more, so please donate all that you can. You don’t need to dig deep, just be thoughtful this Christmas.
“It is not the value, it’s the thought that counts.”
Miss Smith hopes to receive gifts for 180 residents, and already has 100 presents – 90 of which she wrapped herself.
“My gift wrapping skills are being put to the test,” she said. “There’s been a couple of fights with the sellotape!”
There are drop-off centres at Ritchie Collins Gallery, Henderson Street, Port O’Leith bar, Constitution Street, The Good Therapist, Mayfield Road, Now Rest cafe, Bonnington Road, Cloud 9, Easter Road, Max Yarns Embroidery, Duke Street, Lovella, Leith Walk, and Martha’s Attic, in Portobello.
• For more information, visit www.sports-clinic.co.uk/lookingafterourelderly.php.