PORTSMOUTH poured out its heart for war-torn Syria tonight as hundreds of sacks full of donations were stumped up for families in dire need.
City residents left a massive pile of essentials in Guildhall Square ready to be shipped out for communities ripped apart by conflict.
And a poignant candle-light vigil was staged as the Syrian crisis deepens.
Portsmouth refugee relief group Don’t Hate, Donate held the occasion as it strives to support the most needy, chiefly the community of Aleppo, dogged for years by civil unrest.
Don’t Hate, Donate trustee, Chantelle Burton, said: ‘I’m overwhelmed by the level of support.
‘We put out the plea to Portsmouth, and the people have really, really pulled it off and given above and beyond.
I’m overwhelmed by the level of support. We put out the plea to Portsmouth, and the people have really, really pulled it off and given above and beyond.Don’t Hate, Donate trustee, Chantelle Burton
‘We urged people to give everything and anything.
‘We will sort through the aid, and nothing will be wasted.’
Speeches were given by community campaigners, while a documentary about the problems gripping Syria was shown for those who turned up to show their support.
Simon Magorian, of the Stand up to Racism movement, said Syrian families were enduring ‘hell’ as they flee their homes in search of safety.
He said: ‘People feel when they see images on the television, that they’re helpless.
‘But they can make a difference.
‘Don’t Hate, Donate has donated over 150 tonnes of aid across, largely from the people of Portsmouth, which shows how much Portsmouth does care.
‘There are bags of stuff here for people that will go out and change lives.
‘Even in just a small way, people can make a huge difference. We are not impotent, we are quite powerful if we come together.’ Labour activist Sue Castillon said: ‘Portsmouth has shown it has a great heart for helping others.
‘It demonstrates, that people really want to supports in distress.
‘We can’t imagine what is going on.
‘This has brought the best out of our community.’
Angelo Villani and his wife Sandra Buentil were all too happy to help as they brought along coats to give.
Sandra said: ‘We feel so bad for the people in the world who are suffering.
‘You can’t imagine what is happening over there – it’s important to help. Even if just a little.’
Angelo said: ‘There is suffering in Aleppo, but it’s not just what you see on TV. There are so many problems in places like Africa, the Congo and Somalia.’