Advent Day 3: Congregation serves up 20,000 toasties for school pupils

Volunteers at an Edinburgh church have served 20,000 toasties to local school pupils.

Toastie Tuesday at Liberton Northfield Church attracts around 180 youngsters every week during term time for lunch.

Toastie Tuesday
Toastie-tastic - : L-R Alisdair McLeod, Charlie Banks. Mackenzie Fuller, Agnes Guthrie, Fiona Sturrock and Geoff Palmer.

For just £1, they can buy a toastie, a soft drink and either a cookie, muffin or a packet of crisps to enjoy while chatting with their friends or volunteers and youth leaders who run the project.

The top selling toastie is cheese and ham – a delight that sees Liberton High School pupils queuing round the side of the church in mouth-watering anticipation.

Liberton Northfield Church
New kids on the block - youngsters queue up for toasties

Rosie Ozkan, 17, who is in S6, said: "Toastie Tuesday is the highlight of my week.

"I love it and look forward to it because the food is good and so cheap.

"The church is very welcoming and good people run it."

Friendly and welcoming

Her friend Jack Baigan, 17, agreed that the project in the church hall, which caters for S2-S6 pupils, was very worthwhile.

"It is a really good atmosphere, all the volunteers are very nice and the food is good," added the S6 pupil.

"Toastie Tuesday brings people together and you can sit and have lunch with the volunteers or play Fifa on the XBox.

"The volunteers come over a lot and speak to us and you feel like you could speak to them about all sorts of different things because they are so friendly and welcoming."

Rosie Ozkan Jack Baigan
Toastie Tuesday is the highlight of the week for S6 pupils Rosie Ozkan and Jack Baigan

Toastie Tuesday has been running for three years and is a joint venture between the congregation and a non-profit Christian organisation called Young Life International.

Church member Fiona Sturrock, who buys 30 loaves of bread a week, said: "It is a great joy to welcome children from all faiths and none into the church.

"It is a safe space and we give them a lovely warm welcome and encourage them to eat the odd piece of fruit which is more challenging.

"For some young people it is the only decent meal they will have that day.

"We are vigilant to the fact that sometimes young people come along and will hang back because they don't have any money and after a bit of coaxing they will accept a toastie."

Knowing Jesus

Mrs Sturrock said youngsters often hang around after lunch service is over to chat with volunteers and Young Life International leaders whom, if asked, will share stories about how they came to the Christian faith.

"This has led to some young people attending a summer holiday camp and some have come to know Jesus personally which is fantastic," she added.

Helen Palmer
Serving up a storm - Helen Palmer.

Helen Palmer is the project treasurer and one of the volunteers in the kitchen who helps make the toasties on six machines which have four berths each.

"The young people love to come and it is fantastic to see so many feeling comfortable and having somewhere safe and warm to have their lunch," she said.

"Jesus fed lots of people and the project provides an opportunity for lots of conversations and all I want to see is them filtering out into the community."

The best welcome

Hotdogs are also on the menu but toasties remain the biggest hit.

Mackenzie Fuller, a leader with Young Life International who also attends the church, said: "Our goal is to make sure the young people have the best welcome they have had all week.

"When Toastie Tuesday started only three people came so it is great to see it grow to around 180 every week and we sell about 200 toasties."

The project was a labour of love for church member Billy Grubb who made around 18,000 toasties before he died in August.

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