A FIREFIGHTER is appealing for help to ensure youngsters from cash-strapped families enjoy the traditional festive countdown to Christmas.

Colin Faulds, who is part of the crew at Bolton Central Fire Station, is celebrating the season of goodwill by collecting advent calendars to be distributed to families through local foodbanks.

He launched the appeal after being inspired by his cousin Graeme Crow, in Scotland, who for the past couple of years has been collecting the seasonal calendars to give to families with children who rely on foodbanks.

Since launching the appeal last week, 100 calenders have been donated.

Mr Faulds, aged 34, who lives in Heaton, said: “There are families, many which are working, who are struggling. It seems to be hard for a lot of people at the moment.

“After seeing a social media post from my cousin and hearing about how the idea has been really well received, I decided to do something here. Initially it was just collecting donations from family and friends, but once it appeared on social media so many people have donated, churches, brownie groups, other fire stations, businesses and so many other groups.

“People have been so generous and I have collected about 100.”

He has collected advent calendars for the very youngsters to young people in their teens.

Mr Faulds said: “I have been in touch with Urban Outreach the organisation will distribute the advent calenders to the foodbanks. I asked how many advent calenders they needed — and they said as many as possible.

“I will be collecting until Sunday, November 26, so children have them in time for December 1. The more smiles we create when giving these out the better.”

And he is appealing to shoppers to pick an extra one or two advent calenders to make sure everyone enjoys the very special countdown and start to the Christmas season this year.

Dave Bagley, from Urban Outreach said: “We love the advent calendar appeal, what child doesn’t enjoy opening an advent calender, I am an adult and enjoy opening an advent calendar. it is so exciting and adds to the excitement of Christmas for them.”

Those who wish to help Mr Faulds by can email him on cdfaulds@gmail.com, or drop off the advent calenders at the fire station or at Top Shop in Belmont Road.