HUNDREDS of Wee County children have benefited from this year's annual school uniform bank, organised by Alloa charity The Gate amid challenging circumstances.

The Gate, with the support of a range of partners, held an open week recently to give Clacks families access to free school clothing and equipment.

Around 500 parents and young people visited the school uniform bank, which was set up at Alloa Town Hall for the first time as the charity's regular base had no space available with its busy foodbank.

The Gate also prioritised clothing and equipment for around 85 children through referrals from partners and services, taking the total number supported to nearly 600 this year.

Marie Brownhill, centre manager at The Gate, was "overwhelmed" by the support on offer and thanked the many parents who donated in the lead-up.

She said: "We could not have operated the bank without the wonderful support we were provided from the local community."

Indeed, it was a massive operation leading up to the open week, with donations taken at The Gate and at a station in Tesco in Alloa for two weeks with thanks from the charity for the support.

A serious amount of planning was undertaken and risk assessments completed with stringent procedures put in place to ensure everyone's safety in the face of Covid-19.

Many of The Gate's volunteers have also been shielding, but partner organisations sent additional helpers who rolled up their sleeves to help staff the town hall.

They included everyone from "amazing" Alloa Town Hall caretakers Cheryl and Rusty who helped every day to Clacks Council head of education Lorraine Sanda and MSP Keith Brown.

The council also backed the project by providing vans and drivers to move items to the town hall with Marie giving thanks.

She also highlighted Ochilview Housing Association, Clackmannanshire Council and its staff, Ludgate Church, Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface and MSP Keith Brown's office for "working really hard" and helping throughout the open week.

Thanks also go to Menstrie's Jett filling station for a donation of six boxes of new shirts, Barnardo's for school bags and lunch boxes and Ochilview for the many pairs of shoes and clothing.

A special mention also goes to Alloa's Resilience Learning Partnership for more than 300 water bottles and filled pencil cases, coupled with new books, small toys and additional stationery donated by other charities.

These were gifted in a goodie bag on exit to most children who visited.