Generous shoppers have given a fantastic start to a Christmas foodbank that aims to bring festive cheer to people living on the breadline.
In just a couple of days, enough food was donated to fill 60 hampers which will be distributed to local families and individuals suffering desperate hardship.
And the appeal, which began last weekend and has a target of at least 200 hampers packed with essentials plus some Christmas treats, still has more than a week to run.
It is organised by Sudbury’s Stour Valley Vineyard Church, which already offers help through its Storehouse project to people struggling to cope with poverty or homelessness.
The foodbank can be found in Waitrose in Sudbury, where customers are being invited to buy extra items to donate. Supporters can also give online through the church’s website.
“We have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity,” said Emma Stewart-Darling who, along with her husband Andrew, is pastor of the Vineyard Church.
“People have already been giving so much food. It’s fantastic. They have also been really supportive and interested in what we are doing,”
Fifty-seven crates of food were delivered from the store on Monday morning to the packing centre where volunteers were ready to start filling the first hampers.
Sudbury-based Wiles Contractors has given an empty office on the Ballingdon Hill industrial estate free of charge for packing.
Emma and Andrew say that five years of running the Storehouse project in Sudbury has brought home to them that homelessness and real hardship are not just inner city problems but also exist in country towns and villages.
Andrew says Storehouse food parcels have already proved a lifeline to those in need. All year, the food is donated by church members who last year also put together more than 40 hampers.
People in need are referred to the church by agencies like social services, the Jobcentre, and Connexions – a Suffolk County Council service that supports young people.
Jack Gadsby, from Connexions, said he could list dozens of examples where food from Storehouse has helped youngsters turn their lives around.