This Christmas will be heaven for most people in our area, but a living hell for those struggling to feed themselves and their families.
That’s why for the third year running, the Spalding Guardian is teaming up with foodbanks across South Holland and The Deepings to bring some festive cheer to those in crisis during the season.
Redundancy, long-term unemployment, illness and family breakdown are just some of the reasons why people faced with desperate circumstances are turning to foodbanks in Spalding, Holbeach, Long Sutton and Bourne in large numbers.
But your generosity this Christmas time will make sure the only tears shed by disadvantaged people in our community are ones of joy after being helped by one of our foodbanks.
Irene Davies, team leader of Agapecare Foodbank at The Lighthouse Church, Spalding, said: “Last Christmas, a man came to us who had promised his wife that he would find somewhere to get help after being made redundant.
“He had tried all the other avenues and came to us for food for his wife, children and himself because he was trying to pay the mortgage.
“When he saw the help provided by the foodbank, the man cried and told us that he couldn’t believe people had given him a food parcel for nothing.
“This year, we’ve seen four men in tears because of the desperate nature of their circumstances and because they have nowhere else to go.”
This year’s appeal was launched on Tuesday at Sainsbury’s, Spalding, whose staff have been loyal supporters of Agapecare Foodbank since it first opened in April 2011.
Store manager Paul Bryan said: “We support the foodbank throughout the year by giving any surplus food to the Agapecare Drop-In Cafe and having a blue collection bin inside our store where our customers can donate food.
“This year, as we have for the last two years, we want to support the foodbank’s Christmas appeal by encouraging our customers to buy an extra item and donate it to the foodbank by putting in the blue collection bin behind one of the tills.
“We’re very proud of our association with the foodbank and proud to be supporting our community in this way.”
Items such as cranberry sauce, mince pies, selection boxes and Christmas pudding are all needed for food parcels to be given out in December.
So far this year, at least 550 food parcels have been given out to individuals and families in South Holland alone, more than one and a half times more than last year’s total.
All the signs are that the number of food parcels handed out this Christmas will be far more than last year’s total of just over 200 and the 2011 figure of about 100.
Irene said: “There’s been a great increase in demand because of changes to the benefits system, rising food prices, low incomes and unemployment, so there’s more work for us to do.
“We’re a crisis charity giving short-term, emergency food aid to people and the majority of those we meet are genuinely in need of our help.
“Anyone with doubts about supporting us should listen to the stories of people in desperation who we’ve helped and imagine the gratitude of those who’ve reached the last straw.”
Schools, churches and businesses have already been donating food ahead of the appeal’s launch and Pastor Chas Sandhu of The Lighthouse Church, Spalding, said: “We would like to thank all those who have generously given to the foodbanks by donating food at all the collection points in the local area.”
Meanwhile, people and organisations in Long Sutton are responding to the plight of the area’s needy with food donations pouring in at collection points in the town. Jeanne Sibley, centre manager at the Market House, said: “Families are desperately proud and really push things to the limit before asking us for help. “We are very grateful for the large amount of food donated by the local community from harvest festivals held in schools and churches, as well as general donations from members of the public.”
There are more places than ever to donate food this year’s Christmas appeal and help desperate people across South Holland and The Deepings.
Collection points in Spalding are the Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian offices in The Crescent, Sainsbury’s at Holland Market and The Lighthouse Church, Haverfield Road.
You can also donate at Morrisons, Wardentree Lane, Pinchbeck; Budgens, Fleet Street, Holbeach; The Market House, Market Street and the Co-operative store, West Street, both in Long Sutton and Crowland Methodist Church, Reform Street.
In Bourne, collection points are at the United Reformed Church, Spalding Road, and the Salvation Army Shop, West Street, while people in Market Deeping can go to the Rev Mark Thomson, 16 Church Street, Deeping St James.