When Gary Rooney and his friends were asked to bring two gifts to the Help for Kids’ Christmas party they decided to do better – a vanload better.
They clubbed together and bought £3,000 worth of toys to be distributed to disadvantaged Dundee children.
There were so many presents that Gary was unable to open his van door until they arrived at the Invercarse Hotel winter ball as the vehicle was packed to the brim!
The remarkable donation added to hundreds of toys donated at Friday’s party which will be used to fill festive stockings for children from less affluent families.
Invitations to the glittering event – hosted by Stable Kitchens – for the Evening Telegraph-supported charity, asked each guest to bring two toys for the annual collection.
Gary, owner of BIG Recovery and Transportation, and fellow Dundee businessmen and friends were invited in recognition of their fundraiser in August, a Bangers to Benidorm rally.
But Gary said: “As soon as we saw the invitation saying bring two toys we thought we can do better than that.
“We got together and decided let’s fill a van!”
So after a mammoth whip-round, friends Robert Watt, Joe McDonald and David Fyffe took Gary’s van to a toy wholesaler in Manchester where they were able to get more for their money.
And they filled several trolleys and cages with goodies for all ages, from babies to teenagers.
Watch their Help for Kids shopping spree
Gary said: “All the toys were in the back of my van for the rest of the week and I couldn’t open the door because they were ready to fall out.”
The group revealed their massive haul to charity manager Stacey Wallace and charity trustees as they arrived at the ball.
Gary said: “I thought Stacey was going to burst into tears when she saw it!”
Help For Kids’ annual toy appeal allows sacks of toys, books and other gifts to be distributed to thousands of Dundee families whose children might otherwise have little or no presents to open on Christmas morning.
Gary regularly raises money for charity but Bangers to Benidorm, in which a team of 45 drove a fleet of ageing motors to the south of Spain, was his first event for Help For Kids.
Now he has become an ambassador for the charity and says he and his fellow fundraisers are ‘hooked’, knowing the work it does for disadvantaged children in their home city.
Help For Kids has drop-off points for toy appeal donations across the city, including the Tesco stores in South Road and Kingsway and our Meadowside office. You can find gift recommendations and labelling guidance on its Facebook page.
He said: “We know what it’s like. We have all come from nothing, we’ve been through worrying about Christmas because you’ve no wages left.”
As well as collecting gifts, the party raised more than £8,000 to be spent on even more presents.
Stacey said: “We would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who came along on Friday.
“The donations in cash and toys really has kicked off Christmas 2023.
“We had a lovely surprise from Gary Rooney and the guys from Bangers to Benidorm who turned up with a van full of toys too.”
Our Help for Kids Christmas party photos
All images by Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.