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12,000 items donated to our Feed a Family This Christmas appeal

By Heather Large | Feed a Family | Published:

THE final delivery of your generous donations for the Express & Star’s Feed A Family This Christmas appeal has been made, bringing some much-needed festive cheer to the community.

We have been completely overwhelmed by the kindness shown by people across the Black Country and Staffordshire during the six-week campaign.

In total, we’ve had in excess of 12,000 items donated by readers, ranging from food and toiletries to children’s toys and winter clothing.

We’ve received mountains of festive food, such as mince pies, chocolates and Christmas puddings, as well as basics including canned goods, long-life milk, fruit juice, pasta and rice. Non-food items such as toiletries, baby supplies, new socks and small presents have also been welcomed.

Our single biggest donation has been an amazing contribution of £2,000 worth of supplies handed over by former Goodyear workers. The cash was used to buy everything from tins of vegetables, noodle pots and pasta to bottles of squash, long-life milk and jars of coffee.

There was also an array of sweet treats including chocolate selection boxes for youngsters and vital toiletries including toothbrushes, shampoo and deodorant.

The money came from the Goodyear workers 5/344 Transport and General Workers’ Union Benevolent Fund.

Unite branch chairman Cyril Barrett said: “It was our privilege to be able to support this wonderful, so badly needed, project in Wolverhampton and the Black Country.”

We’ve also had two large anonymous donations which totalled almost 2,900 items from a community organisation in Staffordshire, who wanted to help those less fortunate. We’ve been really touched by how people have taken the appeal into their hearts and gone the extra mile.

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Schoolchildren have shown their caring nature by donating leftover food from their Christmas party.

The pupils at Westcroft School in Wolverhampton were given the choice of keeping the food to eat at a later date or handing it over to help others – they all voted to donate it to our appeal.

Parents and teachers also rallied round filling dozens of bags with food and other items.

Class teacher and student council co-ordinator Carl Bates said: “We have been overwhelmed by how the students, staff, parents and friends of the school have got behind the campaign.

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“The student council is made up of one student from each class and they have publicised the campaign to their class.

“They have then helped to collect all the goods, store them and bring them to the Express & Star offices.” Two other schools have also been busy collecting for the campaign – Wood End Primary School in Wednesfield and Oakham Primary School in Oldbury.

While community organisations and businesses have also come on board, including Willenhall-based Assa Abloy, which made a surprise delivery of two van loads of goodies to our offices last week

Generous members of the public have also donated at trader Anne Franks’ pop-up stall at Cannock Indoor Market.

She sells a variety of items each week for a different charity and chosen to support the Feed A Family campaign. Customers and fellow traders have also given cat and dog food to ensure pets don’t go hungry either.

The Bishop of Dudley, the Rt Rev Graham Usher, and Dudley North MP Ian Austin have also made contributions as they wanted to do their bit for the cause.

Mr Austin, who used money from the good cause fund he set up with his MP’s pay rise, said: “It’s terrible in that in the 21st century we need food collections and food banks but the fact is we do.” Donation points at our offices in Wolverhampton, Cannock and Oldbury and at Waitrose in Wolverhampton, the Co-op in Codsall and the Saddlers Shopping Centre in Walsall have been inundated throughout the appeal.

Ten large sacks of food were collected at the shopping centre thanks to generous staff and shoppers.

Since Feed A Family began on November 4, we’ve been busy distributing everything between good causes including The Well (Home of the Wolverhampton Foodbank), the Good Shepherd Ministry, also based in Wolverhampton, and 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 have also benefited from the appeal.

Some of the items have been used to create food parcels for people in need over the festive period and into the new year while others have benefited a soup kitchen.

Jen Coleman from Black Country Food Bank says food parcels make a huge difference to families and individuals, who are struggling to make ends meet. “They provide a breathing space in times of crisis and hardship and give hope to so many,” she added.

Gary and Caroline Price, project leaders at The Well (Home of the Wolverhampton Foodbank), said they were grateful to everyone who had donated.

“Thank you to the Express & Star for initiating this campaign, and our heartfelt thanks to every individual and business who have donated food and toiletries.

“We have been overwhelmed by generosity of the local community. We feel honoured to be part of this amazing city.” Chocolates, toys and toiletries have been gratefully received by women and children looked after by The Haven in Wolverhampton.

A number of people have also chosen to make anonymous cash donations which have been used to buy vital supplies for the various charities.

Bishop Graham said: “I’m delighted to hear about the incredibly generous response by people from across the Black Country and Staffordshire to the Express & Star’s Feed A Family This Christmas appeal. Thank you to everyone involved, not least the staff of the Express & Star.

“However, I continue to be horrified that there is such a huge need for food banks. That need is not just at Christmas but all year and I hope that we will continue to support those who struggle in the coming months.

“I will also continue to press for a better roll out of Universal Credit and I hope that this, as well as a National Living Wage, might be priorities for our nation.”

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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