Editor’s letter: Farsley’s Santa food drive proves a real community affair

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By John Baron

On Thursday night I had the privilege of joining a parade of around 20 volunteers carrying beautifully made lanterns around Farsley to collect a mountain of food and household items for the food bank at the brilliant Pudsey Community Project.

Farsley Santa’s Food Drive is organised by the guys at Grumpy’s pizza restaurant in Farsley and other local businesses. The idea is simple – Santa rides his sleigh around the streets of Farsley with festive music blasting out and an army of volunteers carrying lanterns collect donated food and other items.

Walking the streets was a humbling experience. So many people were prepared to give everything from a single tin of beans to several bags of food and goodies, depending on what they felt able to give – every donated item was equally welcome.

The parade was joined this year by John Stubbs driving to Farsley Celtic supporters’ club minibus, which ended up being packed with bags and boxes. The club’s supporters donated more than a dozen bags and a large box of food, goodies, toys and toiletries, which was a great effort. (Full disclaimer: I’m also the marketing officer at Farsley Celtic – but it was still a fantastic effort).

The look of wonder on children’s faces when they had their photo taken with Santa would warm even the most Scrooge-like of hearts.

I have to say the evening was exhausting! We walked so many streets and climbed countless hills over three hours, visiting parts of Farsley even I didn’t know existed. But the people who joined the parade were inspirational. They always had a jovial ‘merry Christmas’ to passers by, weaving at children and adults peaking out behind bedroom curtains and were united by a commitment to supporting Pudsey Community Project.

The project is based in the former church building at Fartown in Pudsey and they do such important work, supporting families in need with their food bank, food pantry, clothing bank and their work with people both young and old. I was lucky enough to meet some of the people running the operation a couple of weeks ago.

It is a local charitable organisation providing community, youth/children and poverty resources for Pudsey and the immediately surrounding area – and most recently coordinating support for people in Pudsey, Calverley, Farsley and parts of Stanningley to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. Find out more about them here.

While the Farsley food collection and parade was a lovely experience for many, it needs to be remembered that there are families out there who are struggling for the basics – and not just at Christmas. Food poverty during the cost of living crisis is something affecting people in your community right now and throughout the year.

If you want to give a gift that will truly make a difference, why not commit to supporting organisations like Pudsey Community Project and others throughout the year?

Take a look at the photos of the mountain of food we collected that night. So much more is needed all year round.

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