Students competing to spread Christmas joy to city community

05 December 2017

Picture: Herald and Times

Picture: Herald and Times

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) Students’ Association will be defending its crown in the Santa Sacks University Challenge 2017. 

The community initiative which delivers Christmas sacks filled with food and gifts to the elderly in Glasgow’s West End has returned this year for its third edition. 

In December 2016, GCU won the challenge collecting 1114 items to University of Glasgow’s 1051. 

The teams will battle it out again with the added twist that the University of Strathclyde will also be taking part. 

The teams have until Friday, December 8 to collect the most items, with the hope that they can exceed the 200 sacks they managed last year. 

GCU’s involvement will be led by Rachel Simpson, of the GCU Students’ Association, who said: “We have signed up once again this year to partake in the Santa Sacks Challenge. Our mission statement is that students should be part of something bigger; and I believe this is exactly the kind of project that puts this statement into action. 

“It’s clear our students have the interests of their local communities at heart – as this is not the only donation appeal happening this Christmas. 

“I’m also assisting students to collect clothing and toiletries for an appeal for Help the Homeless Glasgow; as well as various projects from our amazing student groups. 

“I’m excited to be a part of the project again this year, and hope that together, we’re able to make a positive difference to people’s lives.” 

Beyond university rivalries, the real aim of the competition is to provide a much-appreciated service to the elderly. Jacqueline McKie, founded the Santa Sacks University Challenge in 2015 in response to the closure of her local foodbank.  Supported by Woodside Community Council, where she is co-Chair, her future ambition is a self-sustaining community interest company, providing service to the elderly, not just at Christmas, but all year round. 

She said: “It has been a fantastically successful campaign and the gratitude of recipients has prompted a further development of the concept. 

“We want to use this initiative to offer an opportunity of meaningful engagement between young and old. 

“They are valued members of the community and should not be forgotten at a time of year which can be challenging for young and old alike. 

“We are celebrating the true meaning of Christmas and spreading a bit of festive cheer for participants and recipients alike.”