The Bishop of Dudley urges readers to follow his lead by donating to the Feed a Family This Christmas appeal
The Bishop of Dudley has spoken of the terrible struggles faced by families who are finding it difficult to put food on the table.
The Right Reverend Graham Usher says he is aware of one heart-breaking example where a father had to ask his daughter to choose between celebrating her birthday or Christmas.
Thankfully, a food bank came to the rescue so that she could have both a birthday gift and be able to enjoy the festive season.
The Bishop shared the story as he donated food towards the Express & Star's Feed a Family This Christmas appeal, which is aiming to help hundreds of families and the vulnerable across the Black Country and Staffordshire.
The Bishop said: "Christmas is for many of us a wonderful time of family gatherings and eating and drinking too much. It is rightly a time of joy and celebration.
"For Christians this season takes us back, like looking through a telescope, to that simple cave round the back of a pub where the animals were kept. It’s there that God was born amongst us as Jesus.
"God came to earth, surrounded by angels’ singing, simply to be with us.
"Jesus wasn’t born into wealth or power. God slipped in amongst poverty and powerlessness in an occupied land and Jesus’ family will soon be refugees in a foreign land.
"Amidst the fairy lights and tinsel that surround us there are families trying to live with difficult choices.
"Hard working families on low incomes who are struggling to make ends meet and are reliant on food banks.
"Refugees who are confused having fled their homes. Elderly people who are frequently lonely.
"In recent weeks I’ve heard of women in a local refuge who, having fled domestic violence, applied for Universal Credit and have no money as they await the result.
"A dad recently visited a food bank on his daughter’s birthday and said that he had had to ask her to choose this year whether to celebrate her birthday or Christmas as they couldn’t afford to do both.
"She’d chosen Christmas, but the foodbank were able to give her a toy so she at least had one birthday present.
"The pressure on parents is immense at this time of the year."
The Bishop asked others to join him in supporting the Express and Star Feed a Family, adding: "By donating food, toiletries and other supplies we can play our part in bringing much-needed light and joy to someone else this Christmas."
We are collecting donations of non-perishable food, which will be passed on to food banks and other charitable organisations based across the Black Country and Staffordshire.
We are asking for gifts of festive food, such as mince pies, chocolates and Christmas puddings, as well as basics like canned goods, long-life milk, fruit juice, pasta and rice.
Non-food items such as toiletries, baby supplies, new socks and small presents are also welcome during the appeal which is running until December 16.
The good causes we will be supporting again this year are The Well (Home of Wolverhampton Food Bank), the Good Shepherd Ministry, based in Wolverhampton, the Black Country Food Bank, which has centres across Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall, Smethwick Food Bank, Walsall North Food Bank and Cannock and District Food Bank as well as The Haven refuge in Wolverhampton.
Donation boxes can be found at our offices in Wolverhampton, Cannock and Oldbury as well as Waitrose in Wolverhampton, the Saddlers Shopping Centre in Walsall and the Co-op in Codsall.