IT’S the most wonderful time of the year.
And now, thanks to readers of The News, families in need across the area are going to have a very merry Christmas.
Up to 30 trolleys have been filled to the brim with food as part of our appeal to help feed the poor, homeless and isolated this Christmas.
And we helped organise a Christmas lunch for families, thanks to support from readers of The News and local businesses.
A full roast dinner was served up at the Kings Church in Elm Grove, Southsea – home to the Portsmouth food bank.
The turkey was provided by CJ Meats in Havant while the vegetables were donated by Andrew Manning, of Portsmouth Fruit and Flower.
Tracey Dowst, 45, from Waterloo Street in Portsmouth, brought along her 17-year-old daughter Jade for the meal.
‘I think this is absolutely brilliant,’ she said.
‘It helps to bring the community together. It’s good to be able to speak to other people who have been through what I’ve been through.’
Helen Knowles, from Tichborne Way in Gosport, brought along her six-year-old daughter Rose.
The 37-year-old, who was helped out by the local food bank when she was struggling financially a few years ago, said: ‘I really enjoyed it – I think the dinner was a great idea.
‘This means everything to me.
‘If it wasn’t for the food bank we might not still be together as a family.
‘That’s how special it is for us to come here.
‘And it’s nice to see Rose’s face light up as well.’
Alicia Drapier, 27, from Bucksey Road in Rowner, brought along her daughter Elizabeth, two, and son George, one.
She added: ‘Just knowing that there are people out there that want to do something like this for us free of charge is fabulous.’
Martin Mant, of the Portsmouth food bank, said: ‘I think it’s gone really well.
‘It was almost like a family atmosphere. I’m overwhelmed with the donations – all of this is just amazing. It’s nice that local businesses are supporting local people.
‘I think it’s inspired us to do it again next year.’
With the current gloomy economic climate, more and more people are in need, and the food appeal has given a boost to needy families at a rough time.
Martin added: ‘I have been really encouraged by the volume of what we have had and the fact that it’s all Christmas stuff is great,’ he said.
‘I really do think for some people it will be the difference between being able to celebrate and not celebrating.
‘I don’t think people realise that for some people, it’s a choice between having food and having Christmas.
‘It’s made a big difference. The trolleys have been overflowing with food.
‘Never underestimate what difference a small contribution can make.
‘It truly does make a difference to people.
‘Words just can’t really express how grateful and thankful we are for the things that people have given to us.’
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