THE spirit of Christmas is alive and well despite tough economic times.
Mum-of-two Debbie Selam set herself a task of providing some Christmas cheer for 10 families fleeing violence at a Kirklees women’s refuge.
She contacted supermarkets, farm shops, cafes and restaurants and ended up inundated with festive food and gifts.
Debbie, 38, of Dalton, a British-born Christian who converted to the Islamic faith after she married a Muslim, usually makes her Christmas donations anonymously.
But this year she was so touched by the generosity of local traders big and small she wanted to say a public ‘thank you.’
Debbie, who has two sons Shamsie, eight, and 18-month-old Yusuf, said: “All this has restored my faith in people’s generosity. It’s been wonderful.”
Debbie has collected a carload of Christmas food and children’s presents.
Among the items donated were: six turkeys, 20 boxes of mince pies, six Christmas cakes, 10 big packs of crisps and 10 selection boxes.
Then there were two bags of potatoes, a sack of carrots, loads of parsnips and stacks of apples, bananas and clementines.
There were also supermarket vouchers from Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s.
“We all know times are tough but the generosity of people has been overwhelming,” said Debbie, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2007.
“As we don’t celebrate Christmas we usually give anonymously to a refuge in Leeds.
“The refuge closed down and we found another in Kirklees.
“I just phoned up and asked what they needed for Christmas.
“They said they were probably okay for turkey as the ladies had just had a house meeting to decide who would have brown meat and who would have white.
“I was shocked. Most people are talking about what size turkey to buy not how to divide one up.
“I decided to get on the phone and I was amazed by the response.
“The traders didn’t just provide what they offered they went above and beyond.”
Debbie, who has campaigned for increased funding for research and treatment into brain tumours, said she particularly wanted to thank small retailers for whom giving cost so much more than the large supermarkets.
She said mums and children fleeing domestic violence were often without money at Christmas.
“When women leave home it often takes ages to process benefit claims and families can be left without money over Christmas,” she said.
“Now they will have a fabulous meal, all the children will have presents and, for the first time, the mums will have a present each too.”
Debbie said she hoped her experience would inspire others to help the less fortunate at Christmas.
She added: “We have achieved all this in a few phone calls so why can’t people go and knock on an elderly neighbour’s door and ask if they have all they need for Christmas?
“All it takes is a little thought and a little effort to make a big difference to someone’s life.”