Campaigner Zara launches festive food parcel appeal

A woman has launched her annual Christmas food parcel appeal after finding herself in a hostel with her disabled son nearly eight years ago.

Zara Sands is appealing for volunteers to help pick up donations
Zara Sands is appealing for volunteers to help pick up donations

Zara Sands has been helping homeless people and families in need for the last five years, collecting food parcels which are delivered every single weekend, even during the pandemic when she was pregnant.

The 36-year-old wanted to give back to the community after she and her son Joshua had to go into a hostel when they lost their house.

She said: "I had a bad upbringing myself and went through a lot of violence. I lost my home seven-and-a-half years ago and ended up in a refuge, and I give back to that same refuge with donations now.

"When me and my son were in the refuge, he was eight and we had nothing. So it makes me feel good to be able to give back to them."

Her group, Helping Hearts Outreach for the Homeless and People in Need, delivers food parcels to child protection units, hostels, and families in need every weekend - with the help of volunteers who reached out to her online.

Local supporters have donated food, but she has also received food from Poundland, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, and Waitrose.

In particular, Zara Sands is grateful for the support of Poundland in Wolverhampton. She said: "Poundland help out all year round, and they've donated lots to our Christmas appeal."

For her Christmas appeal, parcels will include toys and craft bags for children, mince pies and selection boxes.

Zara added: "We're after more Christmas Eve donations and anyone to get involved. We always need more."

Her team have delivered parcels all the way through the pandemic, even when she was pregnant with her second son, Jailen, and caring for her eldest son, Joshua.

The mum-of-two is a full-time carer of sixteen-year-old Joshua, which she has always balanced with her charity work.

Her first initiative was outreach on the streets, handing out hot food, drinks, clothes and toiletries to the homeless, but this had to stop during the pandemic.

Now, she hopes she can bring it back with the help of volunteers who cover Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire.

To donate or for more information, go to facebook.com/groups/helpingheartsoutreach.

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