A BIG-HEARTED woman has Christmas all wrapped up for scores of cash-strapped strangers – after pledging to supply their festive dinners.

Ruth Miller Sharkey will provide turkey, roast ham, vegetables, desserts and beverages to 42 struggling households in her home town this Christmas.

The mother-of-three decided to act in response to levels of need in Greenock, Inverclyde.

Local businesses and generous donors have chipped in a range of edibles, with the scheme growing to include gifts after word spread on Facebook and extra items were handed in at her home.

The retail worker said: “It has all snowballed.

“I thought it was going to be about 20, now I’m sitting at 42 and I can’t go any higher – I’m turning people away.

“I’ve got people who are working but who are in poverty and can’t get to the foodbank because they don’t qualify. Some are waiting for their Universal Credit payments.

“There’s a really sad case of a man who’s been sanctioned and had to tell his daughter that Christmas was cancelled. I told him to tell her it’s back on, and we have presents for both of them.”

The project has outgrown Ruth’s fridge so local rugby team Greenock Wanderers, for which her 15-year-old daughter Natacha plays, has offered to store most of the frozen food. However, she says her home is “stowed” with chocolates, soft drinks, presents and more.

She told The National: “It’s like a market. For nearly a week I couldn’t walk straight to my bed, I had to climb over stuff until I got it organised. The door goes all the time.

“Someone gave in a kids’ kitchen, which is in my daughter’s room. One girl went to Glasgow and bought for a whole family – pyjamas, make-up, toiletries and perfume.”

Those regularly providing food aid say demand in the town is increasing. Inverclyde Food Bank, which is part of the Trussell Trust network, revealed it distributed more than 80 packs of emergency supplies on November 24 alone.

While such organisations take referrals from doctors, social workers and more, Ruth has not vetted those she is helping. She admits this may leave the scheme open to abuse, saying: “There could be someone who is on the make, but Greenock is a small area and there is always someone who will know and and tell you. Word gets about.

“I’m taking people at face value, and if something like that does happen and I do this again next year, they won’t get anything.”

She went on:”Things are very bleak for the people I’m helping. It’s people from all walks of life, mostly aged 30 to 50. This is just to take away that despair at Christmas.”

However, despite organising feasts for others, Ruth can relax about her own meal on December 25. She said: “My mum and dad have told me not to worry about my own Christmas dinner, so we’ll go to them.”

To donate, email Ruth at kytana@hotmail.co.uk.