A big-hearted Kilwinning woman, known as Mrs Claus, is recruiting thoughtful Christmas elves to help needy families this festive period.
Full-time foster mum, Louise Cast, has been feeding 100 households Christmas dinner and gifting toys to kids in the Three Towns for nine years.
With Christmas around the corner The Mrs Claus Appeal, with the help of Niche restaurant in Irvine, is looking for your help to make this year as jolly as possible for those worried families feeling the weight of this year's cost-of-living crisis.
Mum of four, Louise, said: "I worked with social services for North Ayrshire Council for nine years and every year I raised money to organise Christmas dinner for 100 families and give out toys to kids in need across the Three Towns.
"The thought of families sitting with nothing at Christmas is heartbreaking. I know times are tough for everyone right now, but if you could donate to the appeal it will mean a child in the area will have something to open up from Santa on Christmas morning.
"Before I became a full-time foster mum I would do respite care and one year I was caring for a seven-year-old who asked me what a Christmas tree was; they didn't know.
"I remember visiting a child, during my time with social services, and all they had to open on Christmas day from Santa was a new pair of school shoes.
"It really makes you appreciate how lucky we are when you realise just how many kids in the Three Towns go without on Christmas morning. If people could reflect a wee bit on the run-up to Christmas and think about those kids who get nothing."
Irvine restaurant Niche, based in Irvine Harbourside, is accepting thoughtful donations to the Mrs Claus Appeal and Morrisons in Stevenston is helping provide delicious Christmas dinners.
Louise added: "The Christmas dinner includes a steak pie, all the sides, a chocolate log and Christmas crackers.
In the past, we would give turkey but after getting feedback from families we switched to steak pies.
With the cost of living being what it is, not everyone can afford to keep their oven on for longer times to cook the turkey.
"Niche in Irvine has been fantastic over the years and they are a drop-off point for any toys or donations.
"Every year I do a raffle and I've teamed up with businesses to help Morrisons in Stevenson give a great discount on food for the Christmas dinners and help with the toy appeal too.
"As of next year, I hope the Mrs. Claus Appeal will become a registered charity."
Louise has raised over £8,000 over the years to help feed hungry families at Christmas. The Mrs. Claus Appeal deadline to drop off their Christmas dinner packs is December 22.
Niche Manager Kenny Hepburn said: "We got involved with the organisation a couple of years ago and we'll always do what we can to give back to the community.
"Pop in anytime with your donations. We do ask the toys are brand new and boxed.
"This year is very hard for everybody just now but any little thing you can give will be appreciated and help make a kid's day.
"That's what it's all about, think about what your kids will be getting from Santa this year and ask yourself if even one of them could go to a child who otherwise wouldn't be opening anything on what should be the most special day of the year for them. It gives me a lump in my throat when I say that.
"In the past, we've had a great response from the community and hope it will continue."
For more information and to take part in fundraising games, visit Mrs. Claus's Facebook page here.
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