Kind pupils “give back” to the community with donation to Hebburn Helps Food Bank

Kind-hearted children at a Hebburn primary school have been collecting and donating items to a local food bank to support vulnerable people in the community struggling with the rise in the cost of living.

Pupils at Toner Avenue Primary School have spent the last two weeks collecting over 200 cans of food including soups, vegetables and stews as part of their Canny Friday initiative.

Every Friday, the pupils will donate their cans along with other non-perishable goods to local food bank, Hebburn Helps.

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Year 6 pupil Maddie Waite, 10, said: “I’ve donated tins of beans, soup, custard and vegetables. I’m astonished by how much we have collected in two weeks and it’s good to be able to help people who can’t afford to eat.

"It’s really important to think about other people in the community.”

Ruby Bellingham, seven, added: “I’ve donated tins of pasta in sauces. Some people don’t have enough money for food and with prices going up it’s really important to help.”

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The idea to donate to the food bank came following a discussion with the children on the School Council, a number of whom had to rely on the service during the pandemic.

Toner Avenue Primary School pupils with some of the donated items, alongside Acting Headteacher, Claire Hutchinson, Year One teacher Tracey Finnigan, and Hebburn Helps Co-founder Jo Durkin.

Year 1 teacher and initiative coordinator, Tracey Finnigan, said: “A lot of our parents used Hebburn Helps during the pandemic when people were out of work or furloughed. As a school we decided we wanted to do something to give back to the community which is where the idea of Canny Friday came from.

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"We have been overwhelmed with the response and have already filled four large containers with food.”

Hebburn Helps Co-founder, Jo Durkin, was visiting the school to collect the donations and said the demand for support has escalated in recent months.

Pupils Maddie Waite, 10, and Ruby Bellingham, seven, handing over one of four large buckets of donated items to Jo Durkin from Hebburn Helps.
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She said: “There has been a massive increase in demand for food – particularly within the working population of people who may be on low incomes. With the rise in the cost of living and the price of energy, it really has become a choice for some people of eating or heating.

"These donations from the school are really important as without it we wouldn’t be able to survive. The response from the school has been amazing. It’s absolutely fantastic.”

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