PUPILS helped to pack emergency hampers yesterday for families struggling with debt over Christmas.

Children from Maranatha Christian School in Sevenhampton helped to fill more than 25 hampers with essential food items and gifts for families supported by the Christians Against Poverty Debt Centre.

Organised by the Discovery Church based in Old Town, it is the fourth year running that volunteers have prepared the hampers for families so they can enjoy a Christmas dinner without worrying about mounting debt.

Senior pastor of the church Tom Price said: “It has been great seeing lots of different people involved in getting everything ready, from members of the church buying the food, through to the children at the school packing it.”

“We’ve had people shopping, gift wrapping and packing boxes. People of all ages have been involved in the production line which has been great fun and we’ll be working on the distribution to make sure everyone on our list gets the essentials and maybe a few treats delivered.

“We know it’s hard on a strict budget, especially this time of year, but we hope this helps people feel something of the real Christmas – which is a message of love for all of us.”

Swindon CAP centre manager Geoff Naylor said: “Unless you’ve been there yourself, or you’ve known someone close in crisis debt, it’s hard to describe just how difficult it can be. Debt rarely comes along by itself. It’s often accompanied with a loss of job, health problems, relationship breakdown along with no heating or no food, depression and isolation.

“It can be a long road to recovery, but our hope is these hampers will help our clients to feel encouraged along their journey to debt freedom. It’s important they feel cared for, especially at this time of year.”

In the past year, the debt centre has helped 40 families all of whom were struggling to pay their creditors. The debt centre opened in October 2009 and has been working hard to give people CAP’s in-depth free debt help ever since.

More than 450 families have now benefited from CAP’s help in Swindon and the centre has recently reached the milestone of 100 families going debt free.

Christians Against Poverty is a UK charity with over 600 services across the UK offering debt counselling, money management, job clubs, life skills and support for people breaking addictions.

To donate to the CAP’s hamper appeal go to cap.uk.org/christmas.

Those struggling with debt can visit the centre in Lagos Street to get expert advice or call 0800 328 0006.