It was a heartbreaking plea that moved members of the public to dig deep.
And who would not want to help an impoverished young couple struggling to give their seven children a proper Christmas? But after Ryan Rodgers, 26, and Jenny Grimes, 25, received thousands of pounds for their online appeal, The Mail on Sunday has found those who know them are far from sympathetic.
The unemployed couple from Liverpool are said to be neighbours from hell, and their own relatives have been left bemused by their claims of dire financial need.
The emotive Go Fund Me web page created by Ms Grimes a week ago spoke of a 'family in need of help'.
Ryan Rodgers, 26, and Jenny Grimes, 25, with their seven children. The couple have been described as the neighbours from hell
Blaming their situation on changes to the welfare system, she said 'we have been benefit capped to the bare minimum' and, pleading for money, spoke of 'a struggle with Christmas being only a few weeks away'.
She added: 'We feel really ashamed to have to do this as we've never had to do anything like this before.' The goal for their Christmas fund was just £1,000, but last night donations stood at £3,410, with several donors each handing more than £100.
The couple lived in a rented four-bedroom house on a road in the Kirkby area for two years until last year. Former neighbours claim Mr Rodgers spent his days and nights 'off his head' on cannabis – he strongly denies ever using any drugs – and making cash by selling on second-hand furniture and television sets he picked up online.
Pleading: The couple’s Go Fund Me web page. Donations from the public have topped £3,400
Retired school attendance officer Joan Bennett lived next door but one from the pair with her husband, Frank. She said: 'I can't think of anyone more unsuitable to be asking for money.
'They were flushing nappies down the toilet. In the end they blocked the drains. It was horrendous. When the engineers came out to clear them, they said to me and my husband they'd never seen anything like it before. They'd pile up bags in the garden. In the end there were 25 piled up full of nappies and rubbish. In the summer the smell, my God, it was just horrendous.
The unemployed couple from Liverpool are said to be neighbours from hell, and their own relatives have been left bemused by their claims of dire financial need
'If anyone does give them money I know where it will be going – cannabis. The smell of pot used to be out there first thing in the morning. In the summer I'd be hanging out my washing and screaming, 'Will you stop smoking that stuff and get a bloody job?' '
Ms Bennett said the couple had a lucrative sideline selling second-hand goods. She added: 'There were always vans pulling up. They'd drop off chairs, couches, widescreen TVs. They'd never walk anywhere or get the bus. Cabs were forever pulling up – taking them and the kids everywhere.'
Mr Bennett, 68, said: 'They were terrible neighbours. I went