The charity group Portadown Cares has helped to save Christmas for 120 families and pensioners with special Yuletide hampers.
They have been delivered to people living in grinding poverty in estates like Corcrain, Ballyoran, Killicomaine and Ballyoran, and in other areas
Said committee member Tracie Jenkinson, “The depth of poverty in the town is heart-breaking. One single mother-of-three burst into tears when we arrived with the hamper of food for Christmas dinner and toys for the children. The sum total of food she had in the house was half-a-loaf and half a bottle of milk. The woman was at her wit’s end.
“Then there was the pensioner where there was no wallpaper or paint on the walls, no carpets on the floor, blankets for curtains, and no electricity. The fridge was virtually empty and he was so grateful for the hamper.”
The vast majority went to the town area, with a few making their way from the High Street Mall distribution centre to Tandragee and Lurgan. And all the items - food and toys - came from generous local firms. They included £2,500 of toys from ‘Cash for Kids’ and food from the likes of The Meat Cleaver, Irwin’s Bakery, Tayto Crisps, Kerry Food, Skea Eggs, Simply Fruit, McCanns... “Without the generosity of these caring firms, we just couldn’t have done it,” said Tracie.
She added, “We are grateful to organisations like St Vincent de Paul and Social Services for nominating the people who need our help. We have also had requests from individual families, while the general public has also nominated families who desperately need assistance”
Politicians, including Mayor Mark Baxter, have also pitched in. Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson, who helped with the deliveries, said, “I have nothing but total admiration for the dedicated work of the volunteers at Portadown Cares. They really are spreading Christmas cheer among local people this year, showing that people really do care!”
Mayor Baxter commented, “Portadown Cares is really helping to alleviate poverty at the coal face. The Christmas hampers project is just one small part of their vital work. They give practical help all year round, with their shop at High Street, as well as other vital projects. I commend them without reserve. They really make a difference to people’s lives.”