THE gift of two unwanted bikes to a foodbank has sparked a new branch of community support, providing Christmas presents for children who might otherwise go without.
The bikes were originally given to Keith Lambeth, a keen cyclist, whose wife, Dotty, is a non-stipendiary minister of Riccall, Barlby and Hemingbrough, near Selby, in North Yorkshire. He renovated the cycles and gave them to the Selby and District foodbank to see if they would be any use as Christmas presents. The bank quickly found them homes with two families in need — one of them enabled its new owner to take a job that he could not have reached without transport.
Mrs Lambeth said: “We thought that, as those bikes had made somebody’s Christmas, what about toys? If people are using the foodbank they can’t afford to buy food; so they can’t afford to buy toys, either.”
Mr Lambeth drafted a letter to all the churches in the Derwent deanery, requesting unwanted toys, and several responded. “We received sacksful,” Mrs Lambeth said. “Our dining room was stacked high with boxes. It was very heartwarming.”
Then a motorcycling group got involved. Each year they organise a Toy Run, using cash raised from the ride’s entry fee to buy toys for childrens’ charities. This time, they donated toys worth £120. “They get a bad press sometimes, but they do so much for charity,” Mrs Lambeth said. “Hopefully, we have made some children happy this Christmas. Some of the toys were small, others were bigger, but it doesn’t matter — if a child gets a gift when they weren’t going to, then that’s all that matters.
“In all, we did much better than we expected, especially as it’s the first time we have done it. I am sure it will become an annual event.”
In a letter of thanks to the donors, the foodbank’s deputy manager, Nigel Currey, said: “People like you have helped our wonderful band of volunteers to meet all the demands that have been placed upon us. We have been magnificently supported, both with donations and financially. I hope that, as you celebrate Christmas, you will have a happy and peaceful time with family and friends.
“You may also at some point want to think of the local families who will be having a better Christmas than they anticipated, through your generosity.”
Bishop says foodbanks are now part of life. This week, the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, said that foodbanks were now part of everyday life — even for working families. He told the Daily Mirror: “A lot of people in work are also in poverty. Many foodbanks say they have a big queue at 5.30 p.m., when people are coming home from work.
“I’d love to give thanks for a foodbank winding up because it’s not needed. Many countries have industrialised foodbanks, institutionalised as part of the way things are. I’m really worried we are moving in that direction. Are we going to slip into it, saying: ‘This is just the way it is’?”