She approached with the speed of a tortoise, opened purse at the ready, searching for coins to put in our bucket. She must have been in her eighties or nineties with a determination that was palpable. Turning to my colleague Jim, I said I think I might cry. Little did I realise that standing with a collection bucket to raise money for Veterans’ charity Erskine, would prove to be such an inspiring and enjoyable yet emotional experience!
Armed with two collection buckets; stickers; a pop up banner and a rickety old table (provided by the supermarket), Jim (Community Fundraiser for the West) and I stood for over five hours within the doors of Morrison’s in Largs near the exit. It would have been difficult to have missed us that day!
Young; old; people in a hurry; pensioners in no hurry at all – there was no stereotypical donator. One elderly man was on crutches, dropping coins on the ground as he pulled them from his pocket. Others said they didn’t have any change but appeared back from their car with money for the bucket. Another mature gentleman placed his clasped hand into mine. I was expecting to receive a ‘fistful of dollars’ and instead received two wrapped sweets!
Men tended to throw a handful of coins in the bucket not knowing how much money was there, whereas woman were more selective about what they donated picking out coins from their purse.
So many people who stopped to donate had a personal experience of Erskine and the charity’s work caring for Veterans. “Wonderful place”; “My favourite charity”; “My sister lived in Erskine and she received the best care” were just some of the comments received.
Numerous shoppers had enlightening chats with Jim, who served for 33 years in the Navy, about their children who had recently joined up. It was as though Jim was meant to be there at that time to provide them with the reassurance they needed.
We also met some familiar and friendly faces. When you work at Erskine there are always residents who you will never forget and Submariner Bob was one such resident for me. The connection with family is often strong so it was lovely to meet Bob’s daughter and son-in-law. Then there was Moira, a Member of the Woman’s Guild in St John’s Church in Largs who has recently written a Recipe Book, with all proceeds being donated to charity, one of which is Erskine. Such was her delight to see us Moira came back again in the afternoon to give us a copy of the book! And Ex Erskine Chaplain Reverend Jonathan Fleming came over with his boundless enthusiasm and beaming smile to pass on his best wishes to everyone at Erskine.
As Jim and I stood near the phone for Taxi’s we had many a conversation with shoppers waiting for their lift home. One lovely lady and I had a nice chat about life in Largs; her son who lived in Glasgow and how she was turning 92 on her next birthday! It is often said that older people living on their own don’t talk to anyone from one day to the next, so maybe chatting with a charity collector can make their day.
When it was time to pack up Jim and I left with two heavy collection buckets and a warm glow! Erskine’s logo for many years was ‘Proud to Care’ and knowing the Veterans; seeing the wonderful care they receive and wide range of activities they enjoy, I definitely felt ‘Proud to Fundraise’. If you feel Proud to Support Erskine and have an hour or two to spare, could YOU too be proud to fundraise?
And what did we raise I hear you ask! £370 was donated by the people of Largs and Millport that day so its THANK YOU’S all round!
By Judith Haw, Communications Officer