Two years ago, Radio Wave breakfast show presenter Hayley Kay and her group of close friends decided they weren’t going to buy presents for each other that Christmas.
Instead, they used the money they would normally spend on gifts and cards for one another on groceries and festive items for the Blackpool Food Bank.
And it’s a festive tradition the eight women have continued, hoping to spread some seasonal cheer and show the true spirit of giving at Christmas – this year making it even bigger and better.
They asked other friends and family to join in this year and held a drop-off session for the items at the Winter Gardens, so the food bank staff could come and collect them in one go.
Grand panto star Hayley says they were overwhelmed with the response, after posting about the collection on social media.
Hayley – who recently got engaged to partner John Lawson – said: “We decided to do it a bit different this time and opened it up to other friends and our families.
“I think we were all quite shocked at how many people wanted to get involved.
“It was really nice to see all the bags of food, boxes and everything people brought along.
“The Winter Gardens very kindly allowed us to use the festival entrance for people to drop-in and leave items and it meant Neil, from the food bank, was able to just reverse the van up and take all the items.
“We collected all the usual items needed by the food bank, but with Christmas coming up, we tried to also have a focus on festive items – things like advent calendars, mince pies, Christmas treats.
“We tried to put ourselves in the shoes of someone using the food bank and think ‘what would I want?’
“I’m a lot more emotional since becoming a mum to my son Freddie, and I kept getting choked up seeing all the things people brought in.
“I think people in Blackpool and the Fylde coast are very generous and kind in general.
“It still shocks me every time I hear the statistics: There are more than 9,000 children in Blackpool living below the poverty line.
“Neil was telling us how the food bank helps around 300 families in an average month, with around three bags of shopping each – that’s close to 1,000 bags of shopping every month.
“It might seem a bit early to be collecting for Christmas, but the food bank needs the items in good time to distribute them to those who need them and make a difference for those people at Christmas.
“We hope this might just raise some awareness and encourage people to think of others at Christmas.
“When you’re tucking into your Christmas dinner or opening your pressies, you can know you’ve made a difference for someone.
“Since I became a mum I think it’s something I feel is even more important.
“Next year, we hope to make it even bigger and perhaps create an event, with a choir or a band performing.”