Just a few weeks ago we urged our readers to help bring Christmas cheer to people who were struggling to afford to eat.
Your response was amazing. It helped foodbanks across our region collect tonnes of food which will give thousands of families and individuals a happier and less stressful festive season.
Johnston Press newspapers - including the Peterborough Telegraph – in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and south Norfolk joined the Feed our Families campaign.
We called on readers to donate food and Christmas treats to the foodbanks in their own towns.
One foodbank organiser said the generosity of people this year had been overwhelming.
Another said he could not overestimate the value of the campaign.
n Simon Bysshe, chair of the Peterborough Foodbank Project, said: “As far as the appeal is concerned this is building on long-standing support. It’s a reminder of how generous people are.
“They’ve provided Christmas things like advent calendars and other things which is great and helps make people’s Christmases.”
He added: “There can be so many reasons people can fall into crisis with uncertainty in the labour market and changes to benefits.
“Our job is not to comment on the politics, but we are interested in providing very critical support for people at real times of need.
“This then means that because we are working so closely with other agencies which are helping, we can sometimes provide that little bit of extra support that makes a big difference.
“It helps them to bridge that gap, and what we want to do particularly is then make sure that people are signposted to other help that’s available.”
Peterborough Foodbank received over 5.5 tonnes of food during December for Christmas.
This was from regular donors such as churches, agencies and individuals, as well as new individuals and companies such as Excel Displays, Cummins, BT Group, Dalmark Grain, Elliott UK and Peterborough City Council,
The foodbank also had volunteer teams from Thomas Cook and Home Group come and help with sorting the donated food.
The foodbank itself supported charity Hope into Action (which tackles homelessness) with food parcels for their tenants, and the Family Nurse Partnership with donated food and toiletries making hampers for their clients.
In Newmarket staff at two of the town’s racing stables responded to our call for help by organising their own food collections.
“Godolphin and Darley stables have done big collections for us prompted by the Journal’s appeal,” said John Durrant who manages the foodbank run by the Open Door charity.
The stable staff’s donations have given a welcome festive boost to the steady stream of food flowing in from other sources.
“We greatly appreciate people’s generosity, and I’d like to say a big thank-you to all those people out there who donate to us.
He added that publicity could also make people less reluctant to come forward and ask for help.
“It gives them some sense of what the foodbank is, and could help make people less averse to using it,” he said.
n Donations have been pouring into Haverhill’s foodbank, leaving its volunteers overwhelmed at people’s generosity.
“So far this month we have taken in over 2 tonnes,” said Ann Merrigan, operations manager of REACH Community Projects which runs the foodbank,
A special three day collection in early December at Haverhill Tesco alone brought in 1.9 tonnes.
“We are so very grateful to everyone who donates,” said Ann. This year again, it’s been overwhelming.”
Last week the gifts were still coming. “We have just weighed in donations from a local Children’s Centre who had a ‘giving tree’ where the families they support were able to donate Christmas items to us.
“It always amazes us as to how people in our community are so generous and we just want to say a vey big thank you to everyone.”
n Wide-ranging support has been given to the Boston Food Bank in the run-up to Christmas.
Ian Evans, project manager, said: “People have been very generous. People have been donating both as groups and individuals and people have been contributing also through the static collections points at Asda and Tesco.”
In addition to items of food, people have been donating money to the organisation.
Pupils at Haven High Academy, in Boston, have raised £2,000 for the cause - a sum Mr Evans described as ‘incredible’.
The Lincolnshire Co-operative has also donated more than £800 to the food bank through its Community Champions scheme, which sees every one of the society’s 250,000 members linked to a good cause close to where they live.
Of the support, Mr Evans said: “It will make a terrific difference. I just want to thank everybody for their generous support.”