Sunderland fans are being applauded for their overwhelming generosity in supporting the city’s food banks.
Before Saturday’s match with Fleetwood Town, supporters group Red and White Army (RAWA) joined forces with Sunderland Foodbank to raise funds and collect food from fans.
Their efforts saw them raise an incredible £1,800 and collect in more than one tonne of food.
Sunderland fans turned up in their droves to donate bags of food and toiletries at a collection point set up next to the Fanzone.
Volunteers from RAWA and the Sunderland Foodbank network were also joined by SAFC’s under-23 and under-18 squads, who helped load more than one tonne of food onto the food bank’s transit van.
Sunderland Foodbank co-ordinator Kate Townsend said: “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of Sunderland supporters. “Since we partnered with RAWA we’ve received over a tonne of food and £1,800 in cash donations.
“Crucially, it’s helped to raise awareness within the football community about the sad reality that results in the need for food banks in the first place.
SAFC’s Academy Manager Paul Reid was keen for the young players to get involved.
He said: “A key part of our development strategy is educating the players about the realities of the community they represent.
“Young players can be caught in a bubble where all they see is the Academy and a team of staff supporting them, that’s not the real world.
“We want to instil some humility.
“This isn’t thinking less of themselves, it’s about thinking of themselves less.
“Helping with the food bank project is a win-win.
“It educates the players and hopefully adds value to the initiative.
“The goal is to create well rounded players who appreciate the position they’re in and use that elevated status to help others.
“The players and coaches have really taken this on board and will continue to be involved in local community schemes.”
Chairman of RAWA Andrew Hird thinks Saturday’s success will lead to more collections.
He said: “I know from speaking to Kate that this will just be the start.
“We’re already talking about showing some of the Sunderland players and supporters how the whole food bank operation works in order to raise awareness, and we will be sitting down with the food banks with a view to arranging another collection soon.”