EFFORTS in Portsmouth have ramped up to ensure families in war-torn Syria get the support they need.
More than 200 volunteers have worked over Christmas to sort through a massive pile of donations for stricken communities.
The generosity from the Portsmouth community has been amazing. To get a container’s worth of aid in a matter of hours is outstanding.Don’t Hate, Donate trustee Chantelle Burton
The huge stash of essentials has been kept in Portsmouth’s Venture Tower after being rounded up in Guildhall Square on the night residents staged a vigil for families devastated by war in Syria.
Organisers are now preparing for the goods to be shipped in a 40ft, 26-tonne container from Southampton out to Turkey, before being loaded onto a truck for Syria.
The community drive has been spearheaded by Portsmouth refugee relief group Don’t Hate, Donate.
Don’t Hate, Donate trustee Chantelle Burton said: ‘The generosity from the Portsmouth community has been amazing.
‘To get a container’s worth of aid in a matter of hours is outstanding.
‘I am really amazed.
‘I am also amazed at the amount of people who have come down to volunteer and sort and pack the aid.
‘It shows that this was not just a one-off thing, people are interested and want to get involved.
‘The situation in Syria has worsened in the time we have collected this aid.
‘So it’s paramount the aid is sorted out as soon as possible.
‘It’s been a really positive response.’
People can track the journey of the donations into Syria by following ‘Bernard’ the bear on Facebook, which will go on to be donated to a Syrian child.
Ms Burton said more community appeals and awareness events would be held in Portsmouth to help.
She said: ‘This is an ongoing campaign – every week on a Wednesday and Sunday people drop off as well as sort out the aid that’s been collected. This will be backed up by other events.’
She added efforts hadn’t stopped at home to support the homeless.
She said: ‘Charity starts at home, but shouldn’t end there.
‘That’s why we help the homeless and those overseas as well. There are plenty of people here that can help.’
To send donations, visit Venture Tower every Wednesday and Sunday between 9am and 10pm.