Vicky Hodge volunteers at the South Ayrshire Foodbank and also helps out at Newton Primary School in Ayr, where she has just donated 200 gift bags for children.
As well as a toy and a selection box, a gift bag also included warm clothes and a jacket. She was also able to give the children a present they could give to their parents. Vicky gathered her donations mainly through a Facebook and social media campaign.
Vicky said: “I saw how much help the school needed. They have a brilliant head teacher and they run a foodbank, clothing bank and help with fuel poverty. They run breakfast and supper clubs. You can see the difference all of this makes to the kids.
“This is my local area. I live nearby, I work here and I know the people. I want to do all I can to try and help.”
“There’s other people involved too. I coordinate it and do the deliveries and I’ve been able to get lots of stuff. I’ve got a great bunch of people who can get me things.”
Vicky is Watch Commander for East, North and South Ayrshire as well as Ayr Community Fire Station.
Her work in her local area has further inspired the Ayrshire Stations to support Newton Primary School. Through the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) they have been able to provide a grant of £3,000 to the school.
The funds will be allocated to help address inequalities in the area, with £1,500 going towards tackling fuel poverty. The school helps families by topping up energy cards to help ensure homes are heated during winter. The remaining £1,500 will provide fresh food produce and essential toiletries.
In addition to this, the local fire stations collected an extra £1,500, donated all the selection boxes and some food parcels. This allocation of funds will go towards mattresses for children and bedding.
Vicky visits the school every week during a time when parents collect food parcels. She’ll find out what they need, check their safety, and if there are smokers at home ask if fire-retardant bedding would benefit them.
She also credits the work of head teacher Fiona McAvoy, who was awarded an MBE last year for her services to education and for her determination to tackle inequalities experienced by children and young people in north Ayr.
Steven Campbell is the Station Commander for Ayr Community Fire Station. He said: “We fully support Vicky with her valuable work alongside Newton Primary School. This aligns with our own initiatives where we seek to engage and build relationships within our communities in a bid to keep people safe, both in their homes and within their local area.
“The generosity from the crews at Ayr, and other stations within Ayrshire has been overwhelming. After an extremely difficult year it is fantastic to see such great community spirit and partnership working.
“Our further aim is that by engaging with our young people we can help to address inequalities and guide them onto paths which enable them to develop in their formative years in life.”