There are plenty of opportunities to spread some joy this Christmas.
Amid the commercialisation and mad rush to buy presents it is sometimes easy to forget what Christmas is really about. Thankfully though there are groups and individuals on hand to remind us about the true meaning of the holiday.
Forget the expensive presents, new toys and latest gadgets, Christmas is simply about family, a time for giving and thinking of others less fortunate than yourself. This year there is plenty of Christmas spirit in the district if you stop for a second to look.
In South Queensferry, a food bank will be feeding people for the third year in a row. Started with the help of the Trussell Trust, the food bank, based in the Priory Church will once again provide meals for those who have reached crisis point.
Lesley Shuker one of the volunteers at the food bank said: “Some people do not think there is a need for one in South Queensferry, sadly that is not true.
“It is a crisis service used normally by people who have lost their jobs or have had their benefits delayed. We are here to help people who are in a dire situation.”
The South Queensferry bank is part of Edinburgh North West Foodbank which covers the capital and surrounding area. One aim of the group is to limit travelling needed for people wishing to either donate or collect food.
Lesley is overwhelmed at the donations she has received from people. She said: “The amount locals have given is tremendous.” People can donate at Tesco where a team of volunteers collect the food, it is then sorted before being sent back to South Queensferry.
The food bank is open every Thursday, including Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at the Priory Church.
In Linlithgow, no one has been spreading more Christmas cheer than the man himself, Santa Claus. The Linlithgow Round Table has been helping him to meet all the children in town thanks to a brand new sleigh and a team of volunteers acting as Santa’s local little helpers.
Hamish Grant deals with media relations at the round table and said many people in the community look forward to the Santa tours, which raise valuable funds for a range of charitable donations throughout the year.
He said: “We’ve been doing the tours for a long time, I remember them when I was a little boy. It’s a tradition in Linlithgow now.
“We support local charities with the donations people give to us when we’re going around the doors.
“Social media has helped massively because we see comments from people asking ‘when will Santa be in my area?’ so more people are aware of when we’re going to be near them.”
The round table supports local causes, such as the recently refurbished scout hall in Linlithgow Bridge, as Christmas tours are one of the most lucrative fundraisers.
A strong community spirit is important this time of year and the Salvation Army in Bo’ness has been doing its best to bring people together for a celebration, bringing joy to the town.
Earlier this month the charity held its annual Community Carol Concert in the town hall and showcased the musical talents of various groups.
The Kinneil School Choir, Bo’ness Belles and Bo’ness and Carriden Band joined in on the celebrations and entertained the crowd. Tom Dunham, Lieutenant of Bo’ness Salvation Army, said: “The concert gave the entire community the chance to come together to sing carols and have fun.”
The Salvation Army embodies the Christmas spirit through its range of work in the community and around the world and the charity tries to ensure no-one is alone on Christmas.