NOBODY in East Grinstead should have to starve this Christmas thanks to the incredible generosity of shoppers in the town.
A new Foodbank scheme will be launched in the town today (Monday), providing food and drink to hard-up families who would otherwise have to go hungry.
And there will be no shortage of grub to hand out as an incredible half a tonne of food has been donated by selfless shoppers.
The community's overwhelming generosity has exceeded expectations, with individual donations and supermarket collections generating a staggering stash of food for the Trussell Trust-run scheme.
The items, which vary from cereal to tinned fruit and pasta sauces, will be distributed from Trinity Methodist Church in London Road to anyone in dire need of help.
Foodbank organiser Jayne Crossman said: "It's always difficult to ask for help. We just want people to know that when they come here, they will always be greeted with a smile and a listening ear.
"We want them to leave with not only food, but a hope for the future as well."
The Foodbank's "seed team" – a steering group – was set up earlier this year after members of the church decided to do something positive having reading an article in the Courier & Observer about the number of people living in poverty in the town.
More than 70 volunteers were recruited during an open morning held in October and the organisation's first supermarket collection was made from Sainsbury's on Brooklands Way the following month.
Further collections were held at Waitrose, where shoppers donated hundreds of pounds and even more food.
The mountain of food is being stored in an overflowing garage in the town.
Julia Harris, from the seed team, said: "We are so grateful to the 88 volunteers who have now offered their services and the amazing generosity of East Grinstead shoppers who have a heart to help others less fortunate than themselves."
To benefit from the East Grinstead Foodbank, residents who would otherwise be struggling to feed themselves or their family must approach a professional such as their GP or social worker, or an institution such as their school or Citizens Advice.
If they are deemed to qualify for help, they will then be issued with a "red voucher" to exchange for three days' worth of food.
The items will be distributed between 1 and 3pm on Mondays and Fridays, and from 9 to 11am on Wednesdays.
The organisation's one outstanding need is for long-term storage space. If you think you can help, call 07983 209940 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org