EAST Lothian Foodbank has launched its fourth annual Jingle Bags appeal to bring festive joy to families in need across the county this Christmas.

Since launching Jingle Bags in 2017, more than 1,354 bags have been handed out.

The bags contain everything needed to celebrate Christmas dinner, including festive treats like mince pies, chocolates and crackers.

Lucy Daniels, outreach manager at the foodbank, said: “Following a busy Christmas period in 2016, we decided we wanted to do more than provide regular essentials during the festive period: we wanted to do something different which would help on Christmas Day, bringing a wee bit of Christmas cheer when people need it most.

“From this, our Jingle Bags were born and they’ve gone from strength to strength.

“We’ve been awed by the generosity of the community in support of Jingle Bags over the years, it’s been amazing and we couldn’t do them without it.”

Everyone referred for a food parcel in December over the last four years received a Jingle Bag in addition to their standard three-day emergency food parcel.

Lucy added: “Last year, when Covid restrictions made supporting partner organisations with prepared Jingle Bags impossible, the foodbank provided funding and donations direct to the organisations so they could still provide Jingle Bags to the families they supported – an additional 331 Jingle Bags.

“Jingle Bags would not be possible without the dedication of the foodbank’s army of volunteers, who put in extra hours to make sure they look festive and contain lots of goodies, and are delivered across the county.”

Elaine Morrison, foodbank manager, said: “We know not everyone looks forward to Christmas and it can be a particularly hard time of year for those struggling to feed themselves and their families, and this year brings its own unique set of challenges.

“If the past 18 months have taught us anything it’s that anyone could fall into unforeseen circumstances and find ourselves in need of support.

“East Lothian is well known for its strong community spirit, it’s a place where people help each other and have compassion for neighbours.

“But, right now, far too many people in our community are living in poverty, and it’s not right that any of us are forced to turn to a charity for emergency food.

“We’re committed to working towards a future where no one in our community needs charity to put food on the table. That’s why we’re working with the Trussell Trust to push for changes that will bring us closer to a hunger-free future. In the meantime, we’ll do everything we can to support those in our community and Jingle Bags is just a small part of this.”

Donations can be handed into any of the foodbank’s regular collection points, directly to the foodbank, or by calling the foodbank on 07516 510617 if help is needed.

Jingle Bags will be given out from December 1, so donations are encouraged as early as possible.

This year, the foodbank is also asking children to get involved by downloading and colouring in the Jingle Bag labels from the Jingle Bag webpage or designing their own and then handing them into the foodbank. An East Lothian Foodbank special Jingle Bags Christmas song will also be released.

The Jingle Bag shopping list is:

• Chicken/turkey (tinned)

• Potatoes (tinned or packet mash)

• Carrots (tinned)

• Sweetcorn (tinned)

• Peas (tinned)

• Gravy (packet)

• Bread sauce (packet)

• Stuffing (packet/box)

• Christmas pudding

• Custard

• Mince pies

• Biscuits

• Chocolates/selection pack