Staff and children from Columbia Grange School show the true meaning of Christmas with donation to Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen

Staff and children at Columbia Grange School in Washington have been showing the true meaning of Christmas by donating food items and sleeping bags to Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 4:23 pm

Rather than buying each other Christmas cards and presents, staff at the school always donate to a worthy festive cause.

The work of the Soup Kitchen was brought to the school’s attention by parent Natalie Ross, whose son Aaron attends the school. The soup kitchen provides hot meals three evenings a week to disadvantaged people in Sunderland, many of whom are homeless, and regularly caters for up to 100 people.

The facility also provides a takeaway service of non-perishable goods which people can collect to help ensure they have sufficient food to eat on the days the kitchen is not running.

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Natalie, 34, who volunteers at the kitchen, said: “I’m really pleased the school decided to get involved. Columbia Grange has done a lot to help my family over the years and now their generous donation will help vulnerable adults, children and families across the city.”

The staff have been donating a range of items to make up ‘Christmas goody bags’ which include pasta, rice, sauces, tinned meat and vegetables, biscuits, sweets and cakes as well as toiletries and personal care items.

Deputy headteacher Rosie Walker said: “It was during a meeting with Natalie that I found out about her involvement with the soup kitchen and it seemed a really worthwhile cause and kept that connection with the school.

Staff at Columbia Grange School with some of the donated items for Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen

"It’s important for schools to do their bit for the local community at Christmas and helps the children to be part of the giving process.”

One pupil who went the extra mile to support the Soup Kitchen was Natalie’s son and Columbia Grange student Aaron Stubbs, 10, who raised £850 to purchase sleeping bags, foil blankets, hats, gloves and thermal socks to give to homeless people who visit the kitchen.

Natalie said: “Aaron made food hampers to raffle off to raise money. He also used some of the money to buy gifts for people who come to the kitchen.”

10-year-old Aaron Stubbs with some of the sleeping bags purchased for homeless people who visit the soup kitchen

One of those children set to deliver the parcels next week is Lucie Carr, eight, who said: "It's a kind thing to do". Sophia Carr, eight, added: "The parcels will make the people feel happy".

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