Three supermarket giants hope to once again collect trolley loads of food donations for those who are struggling in the run-up to Christmas following their successful involvement with Feed Our Families last year.
The Burton Mail this week launched its annual Feed Our Families appeal. It sees the communities of Burton and South Derbyshire come together to donate food to those most in need at Christmas time.
This year, it has been decided that donations will be distributed between four vital causes which work tirelessly to support those in society who need a helping hand.
Those that will benefit are Burton YMCA and South Derbyshire Council for Voluntary Services (CVS), as well as Burton’s Salvation Army and The Eaton Foundation, which is also based in the town.
Last year was the most successful campaign ever, with a record 15,000 food items feeding around 1,000 families over Christmas, thanks to Burton Mail readers.
This year it is more important than ever as food banks in Burton and South Derbyshire are being used more than ever before.
Sainsbury's in Union Street was the first retail outlet to pledge its support to this year's campaign and has called upon its "generous and kind-hearted" customers to make this year the best ever for donations.
PR Ambassador Sandra Roberts, 53, said Sainsbury's customer base was usually very charitable and said the store was delighted to be able to help families in crisis in the area.
She said: "It is an amazing campaign and at this time of year we are all thinking of the less fortunate. This is a way of showing kindness and generosity for four very good causes.
"It helps our local community and our customers are always very generous. We always get a really good response and usually fill two or three trolleys a week with tins and biscuits."
The store, which collects donations for the RSPCA in Stretton all year round, will have a trolley and posters next to the checkouts.
The shop will be open and accepting donations from 7am until 10pm on Monday to Saturday and 10am until 4pm on Sundays. Sainsbury’s in Civic Way, Swadlincote, will also be acting as a Feed Our Families collection hub.
Also helping to raise awareness of the plight of others this Christmas are staff at Tesco on St Peter’s Bridge who help the needy all year round.
Colleen Millar, 41, is the community champion at the store. She said Feed Our Families makes "a big difference" to local people, and customers who donate will more than likely know the people who use the food bank service.
She said: "It is really surprising how much people rely on food banks nowadays. I was talking with a customer about it and how times have changed and people are in need of help through no fault of their own.
"Perhaps something may have happened at work and now they are struggling or they just need some extra support but this time of year, when it is cold and Christmas is coming up, can be an especially difficult time of year for many.
"Having the food banks to go to could be lifesaving for some people."
Colleen says Feed Our Families is a "really good campaign that has helped so many people and it will continue to help so many more".
She said: "Last year we were involved and at Tesco we like to support local people as much as we can. We would like to think that we are not just a supermarket but that we are doing our bit to help surrounding areas.
"We will set up a table and a trolley at the front of the store and we will encourage people to leave food and cash donations so customers can pop something in after their shop.
"If people choose to leave cash donations we will collate the money and use it to do a shop of certain things that the food banks need but don't have much of. We get an idea of the items they are struggling for and we top them up."
Colleen said Tesco is hot on no food going to waste and is part of a number of initiatives which help give back to the community.
She said: "What we aim for is that none of our food waste goes to waste and instead we try to donate it to local charities who can benefit.
"We have our community food collection once a year on November 30, December 1 and December 2 which is an annual collection that is run in line with Fairshare. They redistribute to homeless shelters and women’s refuges rather than food banks and on top of all food donated, Tesco add a 20 per cent top up.
"We also do different projects such as bags for help which aids the community and we have a process at the end of the day where reduced goods which have not sold are put up for collection. All charities have to do is register online and they can collect it and redistribute it to soup kitchens and breakfast clubs etc."
Central England Co-operative is also hoping to be a big help to the campaign, by acting as a collection point at five local stores.
A spokesman for the firm said: "One of the key elements that forms part of everything we do at Central England Co-operative is ensuring we support and help our communities.
"This is why we launched a Christmas Food Bank Appeal and decided to throw our support behind Feed our Families and help those who might be in need this festive season.
"All we ask customers to do is to donate what they can at the special collection points in our stores in the run-up to Christmas."
Feed Our Families donations can be made at the Stretton Food Store, Castle Park Food Store, Hatton Food Store, Repton Road Food Store in Willington and Ashby Food Store.
Swad lions’ collection will also help the needy nearby
Volunteers from Swadlincote and District Lions Club have kicked off their annual food collection at Morrisons in Swadlincote and say they are already over the moon with the amount of support they have received.
Rod Fry, 73, is the welfare chairman of the group and was on hand on Wednesday morning to oversee the launch of this year’s annual collection, which will this year be shared between South Derbyshire CVS and Bank House drop in centre in Swadlincote.
Rod, from Bretby said: "We all feel like Christmas is a special time and this year we decided to give the donations to the CVS in South Derbyshire and Bank House. Both do a fantastic job helping those in need and it is rewarding knowing it will make such a difference to them.
"The volunteers do three hour stints in the foyer and the response has already been quite good. Normally on the first morning it is quiet but we collected four boxes of different types of food which is a good start.
"The collection has always been successful and last year we filled 35 boxes with 2,500 items in five days.
"The collection always coincides with Feed Our Families but it is not a competition. In fact it only makes more people aware and it is all going to the same place - to help the less fortunate.
"Quite a few people do not realise just how big a problem there is in the community and how many rough sleepers and hungry people there are in our towns and villages but our food banks do such a great job and we are pleased to be supporting them once again."
The Swadlincote and District Lions Club will be in the Swadlincote branch of Morrisons from 10am until 7pm on Friday and Saturday and 10am until 4pm on Sunday.
How can I donate to Feed Our Families?
For many people Christmas is a happy time, but for some it can be anything but.
A few pounds could be the difference between a family in need eating or going hungry. Just 50p could buy a tin of soup, and help keep a child warm. So where can you donate?
There will be drop-off points at Burton in Sainsbury's, in Union Street, and Sainsbury's, in Civic Way, Swadlincote, with many more businesses soon expected to get involved.
If you are a pupil at a local school, check if there is a donation point there and if not, ask teachers to get your school involved.
Over the next few weeks we will bringing you stories of everyone who donates.
Punch Taverns is backing the campaign, as are schools including Granville Academy and Paulet High School.
We want you, our generous readers, to also donate, whether that be setting up a collection point at your youth club or in the pub. If you want to get involved, please contact reporter Rhea Turner on 01283 245047 or email email@example.com