Dad had lost his job. Mum is disabled and unable to work. With no wages coming in, Christmas for the children looked bleak.
But the family was among hundreds across the city with gifts to open on Christmas morning thanks to the generosity of fellow Dundonians.
Back on their feet, they are repaying the kindness shown to them with dad volunteering for Help For Kids and Dundee Bairns this festive season.
The father will be among an army of volunteers and charity staff delivering sacks of toys and food vouchers to disadvantaged city families to ensure their children have presents to open and food on the table on December 25.
Two of Dundee’s most well-known charities, Help For Kids and Dundee Bairns, have teamed up for this year’s festive campaign.
With the cost-of-living crisis biting, they expect more demand than ever and together will try to ensure that no family who needs it will miss out on the help they provide.
As Help For Kids charity manager Stacey Wallace says: “Christmas 2023 is going to be our biggest year yet and we want to ensure no one goes without.”
While Christmas should be a time of joy, for many it’s a time of despair, hardship and worry.
But across the city, people and businesses have been donating in their droves to both Help For Kids and Dundee Bairns to help make it the former for as many families as possible.
Donations and fundraising for Dundee Bairns throughout the year ensures it can distribute much-needed food vouchers to get families through a time when many of the services they normally rely on close down for the holidays.
Last year it handed out £28,000-worth of food vouchers to around 850 impoverished families.
Help For Kids has drop-off points for its Christmas appeal across the city and has started collecting in thousands of donations of toys and cash. The number of children it helps has increased from around 200 a decade ago to 2,000 last year.
Referrals for help come mainly from schools but also from community centres, other charities and professionals including GPs and social workers.
This year these will be shared by the two charities so families don’t miss out on help they could be receiving.
Dundee Bairns project coordinator Genna Miller says: “The two weeks over Christmas are a really intense time financially for families and if you are already struggling a food voucher in your pocket is a massive help.”
As well as food vouchers, the charity will distribute warm clothes and home essentials such as toiletries and bedding through its Cosy Bairns and Bairns At Home drives.
Genna says: “We are very lucky we are supported avidly by the public.
“We hear a lot of people around the city say these [Dundee Bairns and Help For Kids] are our two favourite charities.
“It just makes sense for us to join forces to make sure we are getting to the families that need us most.”
Each child to benefit from Help For Kids receives a gift sack full of presents suitable for their age.
At its grotto, volunteers are already hard at work sorting gifts ready to pack bags for deliveries starting on December 11.
Most gift bags will be delivered to schools to be passed on to their families, but some will be delivered to individual households.
Stacey says: “When we go out to families and deliver we see relief on the faces of parents that just wouldn’t have managed otherwise.”
Sometimes, she says, these are families where the parents suddenly find themselves out of work.
“We have families that we’ve helped in the past coming back to help this year,” she says.
Working with Dundee Bairns this year, she says, will ensure that as many families as possible get all the support they need.
“We get a lot of families that when we deliver toys we find that they also need food.
“The best thing we can do so we can make sure we cover all of Dundee is to work together.”
Toys for Help For Kids can be left, unwrapped at drop-off points throughout Dundee, including the Tesco branches at Kingsway and South Road and DC Thomson’s Meadowside office until December 18.