Killie’s Kindness at Christmas

Written by Cameron Murray, Ayrshire College.

Every year, our family-centred club works with local charities and distributes presents to children in Kilmarnock and all over Ayrshire. This Christmas, Killie’s ‘Bring A Gift Day’ appeal was another great success.

The Killie ‘Bring A Gift Day’ is led by the supporter’s association of Kilmarnock Football Club (KFCSA) – an organisation that aims to represent all Killie supporters, giving a voice to fans within the local community.

This special event led by the supporter’s association is an important day for many young people and families across Kilmarnock and Ayrshire, who would otherwise go without presents for their children to wake up to on Christmas Day.

It is particularly challenging for families this year due to the cost-of-living crisis. Ayrshire’s families will struggle to heat their homes and put food on the table. Therefore, it can be of little wonder that families would be under great pressure to put extra smiles on their childrens’ faces on Christmas Day. If it were not for this special event, many local children would go without any presents at all on Christmas morning. Kilmarnock Football Club’s Bring a Gift appeal helps to bring the joy of Christmas to those children and young people who need it most.

The Kilmarnock Football Club Supporter’s Association are committed to enhancing team spirit and morale among supporters. They play a vital role in preserving the family values of Kilmarnock Football Club. During the Bring A Gift Day event, I spoke to Allen Kyle (Supporter’s Liaison Officer). Allen shared a story of the valuable work he and the organisation had done for one family to attend a Killie match. Allen Kyle, also chairman of the KFCSA, stated: “The KFCSA funded a family ticket this season, channelled via The Killie Community, which enables a family each week to attend Killie games who would not be able to go otherwise”.

Furthermore, Mr. Kyle expressed his strong sense of pride for the club, commenting that “Killie is a 153-year-old club, one of the major institutions within the community with a history”. Allen Kyle also highlighted the positive impact of the Bring a Gift Appeal events in potentially attracting new supporters, by saying: “It shows the family values of the club”.

At this year’s Bring a Gift Day 2022, I had the opportunity to speak to two dedicated Killie supporters. Alan Agnew, a long-time Killie supporter shared how Kilmarnock Football Club’s various organisations all work together in harmony and gave his answer, when asked if Killie were a family club, Mr Agnew stated: “Absolutely, they always have been. There are so many organisations such as the Killie Trust, KFCSA and The Killie Community who work together for the benefit of Kilmarnock Football Club and the fans”. Mr Agnew then told us of the strong community feel of our club – “We are a small, tight-knit community, everybody helps one another”.

I then spoke to Henry McKissock – another dedicated Killie supporter and season ticket holder – who shared much of the same sentiments. Mr McKissock told of the value of the club’s work in the community and gave his answer to whether Killie is a family club, stating: “Yes, a hundred times better now, especially with all the football community work and all the football courses within the community”.

Kilmarnock Football Club in partnership with the Supporter’s Association worked in collaboration with valued, local charities in the running of this event, both The Salvation Army and East Ayrshire’s Churches Homelessness Action (EACHA) were involved. The club works alongside these inspirational and commendable charities to deliver presents and support for children and families in Ayrshire’s most deprived areas. The Salvation Army are a large UK-wide Christian charity known for its active role in supporting families, the elderly and the homeless, and those in great need of love and support. In addition, EACHa is a local church-based charity that supports those without a home, their motto is ‘each person matters’.

During the event, I spoke to Les and Emma Heal from The Kilmarnock Salvation Army. Les and Emma were thankful for the club’s work in the local community. I asked if these community projects encourage you to support Killie they responded: “Yes, it shows the club cares for the local community and is actively involved in more than just football”. Afterwards, I chatted with two members of EACHa who were also very grateful for Kilmarnock Football Club’s community work and shared much of the same sentiments. Emma Wylie of EACHa, praised the work of the Kilmarnock Football Club Supporter’s Association, stating: “It is great what the supporter’s association are doing, giving a real sense of community spirit”.

The team from EACHa also highlighted the importance of events like this for children in Ayrshire, adding: “Without this opportunity, a lot of kids in Kilmarnock would wake up on Christmas morning without a gift”. Emma then expressed her gratitude to the football club, mentioning that the charity has received the same level of kindness and opportunities, stating – “nothing has faltered!”

Furthermore, Emma told of her plans to support Killie along with her son, adding: “All of this has encouraged me to support Kilmarnock, I plan on bringing my son to his first Killie game”.