Published: 24/09/2017 16:21 - Updated: 22/09/2017 16:28

Debi's charity has uniform approach to help children

Debi WeirA MORAY charity has thanked the community for their "phenomenal" support as it helped over 90 children get new uniforms for the start of the school term.

The Rothes-based Moray School Bank, which was set up in January by Debi Weir and her family, has grown over the past nine months spending £11,000 to help 91 local children.

The charity provides new school uniform and warm winter clothing for youngsters living in financial hardship.

Debi, who has worked with children for more than 15 years, said: "It is amazing to know that they have gone back to school with clothes the same as everyone else.

"The response has really been gratitude from the families and we have had a lot of positive feedback on the fact that they can choose the clothes they want and the discreteness when we deliver the clothes.

"We work with Beggs and they allow the kids to go in and get their feet measured with their family, it is amazing.

"I recently got a message from a 12-year-old who had been and said thank you so much as she was so pleased to see her mums face when they were in the shop and knew that they didn’t have to just go for the cheapest pair of shoes.

"The help and support from the community has been phenomenal, we have used £11,000 to help 91 children and only £1800 of that has come from grants. Over £4000 was fundraised and the rest has come from clothes and money that has been donated."

The charity which helps children from nursery to secondary school, accepts referrals from any school or agency working with the child.

Debi added: "At the moment the oldest we have helped is 17 and the youngest was 2, but going to nursery. The older the children the more expensive it becomes but we don’t just go out and buy them a pair of school trousers, they can choose, so more of the older children are wearing skinny jeans now which we are happy to get as long as it meets the standards set by the school.

"We continue to get referrals, it slows down a bit just now but the winter campaign will be beginning at the end of September. We have got some right now that we have to hold, not because we don’t want to help them but because the shops don’t stock the full range of winter clothing at the moment."

The mum-of-two is now looking for a more permanent base as the charity has grown too big to continue working from her home.

"We are looking to hire a premises, the next step would be to offer volunteers the opportunity to come in and help sort clothes and put packs together because right now I am working out of my house and it is getting too big for that.

"We would also like to encourage children to come and volunteer, the children are still heavily involved in the running and have a sub committee, so it would be good to be able to offer that opportunity."

She hopes that the charity can remain based in Rothes, with volunteers across Moray to act as a point of contact.

Debi added: "Although Elgin is only up the road, my husband and I live in Rothes and we both feel that the community have been so supportive so we would love to keep it here.

"We obviously know that means we will be limited on premises, but hopefully we can find somewhere. Debbie Kelly, the other trustee, is currently communicating with volunteers about drop-off points and we would be looking to see if we could have people based in each area, like Forres and Buckie to be a point of contact."

Debi admits that she has been surprised by how quickly the charity has grown.

"It has become much bigger since January," she said. "I expected to help around 100 children in the first year, but to help over 90 in the three or four months of the summer is incredible and it still has the potential to become much bigger."

Moray School Bank is running a junior bake off competition at Oakwood Cookery School to raise funds during October. There will be four heats taking place on October 10 and October 18, with a final on Sunday, October 22. Entry will cost £10 and is open to children aged 8-12. To enter email info@morayschoolbank.org

Anyone wanting to donate to Moray School Bank can find more information at www.morayschoolbank.org or on the Moray School Bank Facebook page.

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