At the end of every year, Celtic FC Foundation releases its Christmas appeal which supports and assists those who are struggling in times of need. Whether it’s teaming up with charities or showcasing events at Celtic Park, the organisation does a lot of good for the local community. 

Tony Hamilton took over as the chief executive in 2013 and spoke about how the Christmas appeal was first introduced. 

He said: “We had the Celtic charity fund which was the forerunner to Celtic FC Foundation at the time. It started off by hosting a couple of parties and we gave a few schools money at Christmas time. 

“We’ve tried to kick it on and widen it to try and impact as many people, who need help within our communities, as we possibly can.” 

With each Christmas appeal, the foundation sets itself targets that they hope they can reach to help those in vulnerable situations. Hamilton spoke about the main aim that he feels is important this year. 

He said: “At a higher level, what we are looking for is parity for people. It just so happens to be at Christmas time but also in the middle of winter so I just want things to be as normal for as many people as we can. 

“Nowadays, we would give away Asda vouchers but we used to give money to struggling families at their doorsteps and they used to break down. They knew they would be able to switch the electricity and gas back on which is ridiculous and totally unacceptable that this is what it has come to. 

“Families that have children is a big interest. We want those kids not to feel left out when they go back to school, we want them to enjoy this period as well.” 

Ahead of the Christmas appeal, Celtic FC Foundation has teamed up with many organisations such as Help The Homeless Glasgow and different women’s aid charities across Glasgow, Dublin, and Belfast.  

Hamilton discussed how important it is to work together with these groups. He said: “It’s hugely important. When you see the economy is on the verge of a recession, people will start to be careful with their spending.  

“These organisations do things that we don’t have the competence or capacity to do within our communities so for us to support them is the right thing to do. It allows them to continue that and allows the people who use those services to benefit from that.”

Many events take place throughout the Christmas appeal such as the famous Sleep Out at Celtic Park which has also now expanded to Donegal and London. Hamilton spoke about how much planning occurs to organise these events and how beneficial they are to the appeal.

He said: “A lot of planning goes through to make these happen. Jane Maguire is the head of income here and she’s got a small team who plan these events and do our other fundraising activities.

“The annual turnover of Celtic FC Foundation is broadly £3 million so this planning is peculiar to Christmas, it goes on all year round and we have events in various parts of the world such as London and New York. We’re hoping to add the Middle East as well.

“It raises the profile of the Christmas appeal and it brings in income for people who participate in those sponsored events which go towards the appeal.”

One thing that gives excitement to all Celtic fans is the Christmas advert. From Mikael Lustig dressed as a police officer to David Turnbull as Rudolph the Reindeer, the adverts have always been humorous and fun to watch.

However, this year’s advert is a little bit different. Although it shows some features of fun, the main theme of the advert is based on the Christmas appeal and how people can help out during the festive period. 

Discussing how the idea of the advert being about the Christmas appeal first came about, Hamilton said: “The idea came from the marketing team at the football club and after a few conversations, we thought the advert could reflect the current times that we are living in.

“We decided that this year that the advert shouldn’t be about buying things but more so supporting and helping each other and I really hope that comes across when watching it.”

In the advert, both the players and coaching staff give their time and effort into helping out with production. Speaking with Celtic TV, the Celtic manager and captain spoke about how much they enjoy working in the advert and how they realise that they have a huge impact on people’s lives.

Hamilton spoke about how it was to have the players and coaching staff join in and show their support for the appeal.

He said: “It’s hugely important to have them help out. I’m in my mid-50s and I still get highly excited when I come across current or former players. 

“The manager comes to a lot of our events and spends time with us. Guys like Scott Brown are still massive supporters of the foundation.”

Looking ahead to the future, Celtic FC Foundation is well prepared for what they would like to achieve in the coming year, including various new initiatives.

He said: “We’re running this fuel campaign where we are providing fuel vouchers for six and half thousand households. Also, we run social inclusion projects for kids that have autism or down syndrome. We have a whole series of things going on throughout the year so there is no downtime here, whether it’s the close season or mid-winter break.”

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