“Seeing all of the beautiful auction lots has underlined how fortunate we are to live in Scotland and to be able to enjoy these luxuries in our life,” says Debbie Shinton.
“It's really a stark contrast to the current situation in Afghanistan and the challenges that those who have fled their home now face”.
When freelance advertising accounts director, Shinton, and her friend, photographer, art director and stylist, East Lothian-based Amanda Farnese Heath, felt “moved” and “helpless” when they saw what was going on in Afghanistan, they decided to pool their efforts.
The result is the pair’s Scotland Chooses Love online auction, going live on Saturday 25 September, with all proceeds being passed on to the refugee charity, Choose Love.
“We were both drawn to Choose Love as it's a forward thinking, modern charitable organisation that seems to think a little differently to a lot of other traditional charities”, says Shinton.
“We were reassured that on dedicated fundraising campaigns like their current one to support Afghan refugees, 100 per cent of proceeds (after the payment gateway takes a small commission) go to the work on the ground and none of the money raised goes to cover overheads, as they use private donors and proceeds from GiftAid to cover this”.
Using their social media contacts, the pair put the call out for potential lots, and were amazed by the response from Scottish independent businesses.
There’s even a tour of Blackthorn Salt Tower in Ayr, an Ooni pizza oven and dinner for six cooked in your own home by private chef Steve Brown (of We Are Pop), complete with matching wines from L'Art du Vin.
As well as their own Scotland Chooses Love T-shirt, £15, the auction site will feature over 70 lots, more than half of which are food-related.
“What was most interesting was that the majority weren't from large corporate companies, big hotels or famous restaurants (we did ask!) but from lots of hidden Scottish gems”, Shinton says.
"A whole host of small businesses and one man/woman companies. So many have come from the hospitality industry.
"It's so humbling that businesses who have struggled over the last 18 months just to survive don't hesitate to help others. I think that the spirit of helping those in need has really come to the fore during these difficult times”.
The current most valuable auction prize starts at £400 for a week’s stay for up to six people at holiday cottage, The Retreat, in North Berwick. They’re planning to close the auction on October 9, when they can see how much they’ve managed to collect for the charity.
“We're hoping to raise at least £3,000, although with Scottish people being as generous as they are, it could definitely go beyond that”, says Shinton.
Find out more here.