PICTURES: Alness, Invergordon and Highland-wide groups benefit from Easter Ross Co-op shoppers' cash handouts
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THERE were smiles all round at a series of Easter Ross cheque presentations made in store the Alness and Invergordon Co-ops.
The thousands of pounds dished out to voluntary, support and sporting groups was generated by money spent by customers with from every £1 2p going to their chosen local cause and 2p to themselves.
Invergordon RNLI lifeboat team was amongst the beneficiaries.
The money will go to meet the running costs of the station and training of volunteers.
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On behalf of volunteer crew, tour guides and fundraising teams, the branch said it's all about local people continuing to save lives at sea and giving up their free time so the lifeboat can fulfil its role. A spokesperson said: "We are grateful to the Coop and their customers for all their support."
The Alness Community Association (ACA) is a local charity based at the heritage centre on the town's High Street.
The ACA runs a small minibus, a shop which supports products made by local crafters, a community minibus, a meeting room and monthly magazine, the Alness and District Times.The ACA has also gathered a large achieve of local history preserving it for future generations.
Chairman Michael Stainke said: "The cost of running small charities has increased a great deal in recent times and so we are very grateful to the Co-op for their financial support. The award will be used to install LED lighting throughout our building and will help to reduce our monthly electricity bills."
The Place has been a charity for over 30 years and is the main youth hub within Alness.
It opens five days and six nights a week as a drop-in and youth club and provides school holiday provision for all primary aged pupils, delivering activities and hot meals to all the children attending throughout the holidays.
A spokeswoman said: "We have a group of young leaders who plan and deliver these activities and use their volunteering hours to complete recognised qualifications such as youth achievement awards.The money received from the coop will be used to go towards ongoing youth club activities and making sure our youngsters are fed. The majority of the young people attending youth club are affected by the cost of living crisis and many come to club straight from school and don't return home until we close in the evening, therefore providing them with a hot meal while they are with us is a priority.
"Thank you once again for your kind donation, it is greatly appreciated."
Crocus Highland is a bereavement support service for children and young people living in the Highlands. A spokesperson said: "We have been working with children and young people since 2014 and became a part of the Highland Hospice in 2016. Since our inception we have supported vulnerable children and young people to understand and better cope with the loss of a significant person in their lives.
"Our staff are highly trained and have extensive experience in working with children and young people at one of the most painful and vulnerable times in their lives. Children experiencing bereavement are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, self- harm, suicidal ideation, and poor academic outcomes. The intervention work we do focusses on harm minimalisation through one-to-one support, group work and peer-to-peer support networks. We help them better understand, accept, and recognise their feelings, develop coping strategies, and feel empathy towards others which in turn builds self-esteem, confidence, and acceptance. This empowers them to minimise intrusive thoughts, make positive life choices and ultimately minimise harm.
"Our services are available free of charge to those living with grief, regardless of their location or the cause of their bereavement. This would not be possible without our supporters.Thanks to their generosity we are able to continue our intervention work, train additional peer volunteers and further extend our support to even more children and young people affected by bereavement."
Highland Soo Bahk Do is a traditional martial arts club practising the art of Tang Soo Do.
Scott Sweeney, 5th Dan master instructor, said|: "Tang Soo Do is approximately 2000 years old and can be best characterised as having the strong foundations of styles like Shotokan and also the kicking abilities of the likes of Tae Kwon Do making us very diverse in what we do.
"Highland Soo Bahk Do has, this year, become a competitive club and has enjoyed success at both tournaments attended so far with every competitor attending achieving championship success so far. This funding will, for sure, help in the development of this. Competitions are available at regional, national, European and world levels and we are gearing up for attendance at tournaments next year with the possibility of attending the European championships."
Highland Group RDA, which offers riding for the disabled, was another beneficiary.