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Feed a Family: 16,000 donations handed out for this year's Express & Star Christmas appeal

By Heather Large | Feed a Family | Published:

An incredible 16,000 food items and toiletries have been donated to the Express & Star’s Feed a Family This Christmas appeal.

Project manager Gary Price, Emma Madelin-Jones and Heather Large

We have been overwhelmed by the kindness of people across the Black Country and Staffordshire who have really dug deep to help those less fortunate.

Our drop-off points have been inundated with an array of food and toiletries with schools, businesses, scouts and health workers among those lending a helping hand.

Among the charities supported by the appeal was The Well (Home of the Wolverhampton Foodbank).

Project leader Gary Price said: “I want to say a big thank you to everybody who has collected for the appeal. It’s going to be a huge help to people at Christmas.

“Demand is growing and growing so these donations will make a big difference to families.”

At The Well Gary Price

The appeal has also benefitted the Black Country Food Bank, which has centres across Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall, the Good Shepherd Ministry, based in Wolverhampton, the Haven women’s and children’s refuge and Cannock and District Food Bank.

We launched the appeal for the third year running in response to food banks and charities seeing numbers needing support continuing to rise.

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Many are faced with the choice of either eating or heating their home.

In the kitchen at the Good Shepperd is Helen Holloway and Elise Hawthorne

Food banks and charities are also supporting many homeless people as well as rough sleepers and ‘sofa-surfers’.

All of the donations will help to make their lives a little easier this Christmas.

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Express & Star editor Martin Wright said: “The response has been absolutely incredible.

“For so many people and organisations to support this campaign is incredibly humbling.

“There is no doubt that the generosity of our readers will help to make an enormous difference this Christmas and I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those who have supported the campaign. It will certainly make Christmas a lot merrier for many people.”

A record-breaking year

The final deliveries of your generous donations for the Express & Star’s Feed A Family This Christmas appeal have been made, bringing plenty of festive cheer to the community.

It’s been a record-breaking year with an incredible 16,000 food items and toiletries during campaign, which was launched by panto star Debbie McGee.

The kindness shown by people across the Black Country and Staffordshire during has been overwhelming and we’ve had schools, businesses and community groups all helping to give it a boost throughout the six weeks.

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 such as toys have also been welcomed.

Kelvin Bates unloading the van at Black Country Foodbank

Blankets and books have also been dropped off to bring some comfort to those less fortunate.

And it’s all gone to good homes with food banks and other charities seeing a growing demand for help from families and vulnerable individuals struggling to make ends meet.

Chocolates have been passed to the Haven refuge which provides both practical and emotional support services to women and children, who are affected by domestic violence and homelessness.

Kindness of ex-Goodyear workers

Our single biggest donation has been an amazing contribution of £3,000 worth of food and toiletries handed over by former Goodyear workers.

This incredibly generous gift of in excess of 4,000 items filled five huge trolleys, which were loaded with everything from cartons of fruit juice and jars of coffee to noodle pots, breakfast cereal and boxes of biscuits.

There were also essential items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, baby wipes and sanitary towels as well as an array of sweet treats including boxes of chocolates and muffins.

Speaking about the donation, Cyril Barrett, chairman of the benevolent fund, said the group was delighted to be supporting the appeal for the third year running.

“It’s very sad that the need for food banks and the like is still so great. “The trustees and myself feel this is a good local project helping people in the community.

“If this puts a smile on a child’s face or on a parent’s face then we are very happy because the Goodyear workers were all about kindness and decency.”

Linda Lowe and Linda Sheils sorting out piles of food stacked high

We also had a massive donation of more than 2,660 items Lichfield Food Bank which due to the generosity of its supporters received a huge haul during the harvest celebrations.

Volunteers chose to pass on surplus stock to our campaign so it could benefit people in need further afield.

Hundreds of tins of soup, vegetables, meat and fish helped to fill two vans along with dozens of bags of pasta, rice, noodles, snacks and biscuits.

“At this time of year we have far more food than we need for local distribution and we would rather it went to a good home than sitting in our warehouse,” said chairman David Clarke.

Famous faces back campaign

Our appeal was given the seal of approval by ‘the lovely Debbie McGee’, the wife of late-magician Paul Daniels, will is taking on the role of The Good Fairy at Wolverhampton Grand’s panto Sleeping Beauty.

Praising the campaign, she said: “It’s just wonderful, it’s what human nature is about.”

Panto star Debbie McGee launches Feed a Family This Christmas

Other famous faces have also got behind the appeal including Olympic gymnast Kristian Thomas.

The 29-year-old athlete from Wolverhampton, who trained at Earls Gymnastics Club in Halesowen.

““It is a fantastic idea and a great cause at this time of year when you are spending time with family and loved ones. It is giving what you can, when you can. If that can help others then that is absolutely brilliant,” he said.

While television sport presenter Gabby Logan and Blue Peter’s Radzi Chinyanganya, who hails from Wolverhampton, learned about the campaign during a visit to St Luke’s Aided Primary School in Blakenhall as part of a BBC Sports Personality of the Year roadshow event.

Posing for photographs with the sign, the pair said she was more than happy to support the appeal.

Digging deep to support community

Across the community people have been digging deep and doing their bit for the cause.

While Neetu and Kirpar Mann, owners of Pinson Convenience Store in Willenhall, used the money collected from the 5p charge on plastic bags to buy supplies for those less fortunate.

Their generous donation, which totalled £220, included tins of soup, rice pudding, biscuits and chocolates.

Saddlers Shopping Centre also came on board to support the appeal for the third year running.

Shoppers were able to drop off items at the centre throughout the six-weeks after a special donation point was set up under the Christmas tree in the centre’s event space by TJ Hughes

Bourne Methodist Church volunteers June and Neville Johnson

Dozens of bags were filled with all kinds of food and supplies thanks to their generosity.

Manager of Saddlers Shopping Centre Melvin Glasby said the centre was delighted to have supported the appeal again.

“We want to thank all of our customers for their generosity for Feed a Family This Christmas again this year.

“Our ethos is to make Saddlers Shopping Centre the heart of our community and initiatives like this helps make that possible,” he added.

Schools have also got involved including Westcroft School in Underhill, Wolverhampton and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Wednesbury.

Pupils Zanis Motilkous, aged 14 and Jalieal Lilley, aged 13, from Westcroft School, Essington, with some of the food collected for the Feed A Family campaign

Businesses including BCA Wolverhampton in Bilston, E.on in Kingswinford and Assa Abloy in Willenhall have also held collections in aid of the campaign.

Supermarkets have also supported the appeal by allowing us to set up donation points.

Along with the Express & Star head offices, people have been able to take their items to Waitrose Wolverhampton, Morrisons in Bilston, Sainsburys in Reedswood Way, Walsall, Tesco Extra at New Square, West Bromwich and the Tesco Superstore in Cannock.

Charities have spoken about how your donations will make a difference to people of all ages.

Staff and volunteers at The Haven

Senior community fundraiser at the Haven, Jade Secker said: “Christmas can be such a difficult time for the women and children we support, having had their lives torn apart by abuse.

“With thanks to this appeal, we are able to give our service users the chance to enjoy Christmas in the way it should be – thank you for your generous support.”

Jen Coleman, from the Black Country Foodbank, said: ““The Feed a Family campaign has been a fantastic source of donations to Black Country Foodbank. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many.

“The food we have received will directly impact the local families and individuals who are experiencing hardship over the Christmas period. Black Country Foodbank have had a difficult year in terms of demand and this campaign has not only encouraged us as an organisation but will take the pressure away from so many struggling families. Thank you everyone.”

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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