Food hampers provide vital fuel in winter months

BAE Systems employers Dougie Mitchell, Aurelio Bello, Ray Deacon and John Hasstrom, handing over the food parcels to The Salvation Army.''We Can Do It picture, supplied January 2011
BAE Systems employers Dougie Mitchell, Aurelio Bello, Ray Deacon and John Hasstrom, handing over the food parcels to The Salvation Army.''We Can Do It picture, supplied January 2011
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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WHILE many of us looked forward to indulging in plenty of food over Christmas and new year, for others the situation was very different.

So one company decided they would help those less fortunate. Staff at BAE Systems in Portsmouth started a collection to make up food hampers that were given to the Salvation Army.

The collection formed part of the company’s Charity Challenge initiative, which aims to provide valuable support to local charities through company donations.

It also aims to engage employees in fundraising and volunteering activities.

It is the third year the company has run the programme and it has been working with the Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal.

The scheme worked by employees kindly donating non-perishable food items including tins of soup, pasta and biscuits.

Altogether staff brought in enough food to donate 40 boxes to the charity.

The hampers were then distributed to people most in need of the food, such as homeless people in Portsmouth, who received them as food parcels.

But one of the leading staff members, Aurelio Bello, has been personally involved with the campaign for more than five years.

He is a member of the Charity Challenge committee at BAE Systems’ Surface Ships division and co-ordinator for the collection.

Aurelio said: ‘We were very pleased with the generous contributions made.

‘It was great to see all the staff get involved and we hope we made a difference to people’s Christmas.

‘Buying an extra tin of beans or soup in a weekly shop isn’t too much of a stretch for people and we all have items in the back of the cupboard which won’t be missed if donated.’

He added: ‘But to someone else, that gift is very valuable.

‘Each year our collection grows stronger and we plan to take part in the campaign again this year, hoping that we can collect even more.

‘I would like to thank all our employees who were involved in helping to make a difference to those who received the food parcels.’

Adrian Clee, community programme director at the Salvation Army, said: ‘It is of tremendous importance to us that companies like BAE Systems rise to the challenge.

‘It helps a lot of people that are homeless or maybe sofa surfing, especially during the winter months.

‘We have a lot of demand from people and we hope we can continue getting support from the company.’