The Stirling Observer Give A Gift Appeal is set to return for its 13th year.

Our big-hearted readers are always keen to respond and in the midst of last year’s pandemic pulled out all the stops to make sure children across the area didn’t go without at Christmas.

This year has also been a challenging one for many.

While lockdown restrictions have eased, the pandemic is still continuing to have an impact along with rising fuel bills, increasing numbers of people using foodbanks and changes to many families’ circumstances.

Running since 2008, the appeal receives and distributes donations of toys and gifts for sick, disabled, needy and disadvantaged children and young people at Christmas.

The gifts are distributed via a wide range of charities, large and small, with the aim of ensuring no local child goes without on Christmas morning and children and families in need know their communities are thinking of them.

Among the charities and good causes which help to distribute the gifts are Stirling Council’s social services, Stirling Young Carers, Home-Start Stirling, PLUS, Cornton Vale and Glenochil Family Hubs, Barnardo’s and Stirling Women’s Aid, along with a host of others.

Previous appeals have been a huge success

In the last few years the appeal has added even more causes to the list including Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s children’s ward and Support4Families which helps families affected by a loved one’s drug or alcohol misuse, including kinship carers. The appeal also aims to respond to any one-off approaches from organisations which deal with children or young people whom they feel may be facing a difficult festive season.

Observer reporter Kaiya Marjoribanks said: “The appeal also exists to ease the pressure many of the charities face over the festive season and allow them to put resources they may otherwise have had to use for gifts into their other areas of good work.

“Last year we really had no idea how people would respond – but we were able to help even more causes than ever before, including a number of community-based projects supporting local families.

“This year charities and good causes are under just as much pressure for a variety of reasons. We can’t let them – and especially the children and young people –down regardless of the inevitable challenges.

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“Reporting on the overwhelming efforts of NHS staff, frontline workers, community projects, charity fundraisers and all those people who have gone the extra mile to help their neighbours, friends and complete strangers has continued to be a focus for us this year. They continue to inspire us all and hopefully Give A Gift 2021 will again prove to be the perfect way for the rest of us to show how much their efforts are appreciated.

“Hopefully this Christmas we can again make it a little easier for them to help the children and young people they support all year round.”

We will aim to photograph and feature as many collections as possible in the Observer in the run-up to Christmas.