Volunteers have helped collect and pack donations to provide more than 5,000 meals for refugees living in Calais.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from seven congregations in Northamptonshire, Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire participated in a Helping Hands project to bring relief to refugees in Calais.
Members of the church, including the Kettering congregation, along with local schools, pre-schools and businesses spent three weeks gathering donations requested by partner charity, Care4Calais, to make up food parcels and winter care packs.
Among the items collected were 8,400 fruit tea bags, 1,680 tins of kidney beans, 840 cartons of fruit juice and hundreds of hats, scarves and gloves.
About 300 members of the church, along with their friends of other faiths, teamed up on January 7 to package up the food and winter items.
They were also joined by MP for Northampton South David Mackintosh who met members helping out with the packing and said: “I’m very pleased to be able to see this commendable work, which I know is something you do regularly, every time you are asked to support other people.”
A total of 453 food boxes were packed in three hours and will provide 5,436 meals for those living in the refugee camp.
The boxes were loaded into four vans and a 7.5 tonne truck and driven, along with 47 volunteers from the church and their friends, to Calais early the next morning.
The volunteers spent January 8 and 9 helping out in Calais.
Some helped sort donations in the Care4Calais warehouse while others helped distribute the food boxes to six different areas of the refugee camp.
Volunteers with building skills built shelters, a paediatrician saw patients in a make-shift medical clinic and the young men and young women assisted in a large scale clean-up of the camp.
Traci De Marco, women’s organisation leader, said: “During this project, I have worked with the most amazing, obliging members as we have tried to make a difference in the lives of others who have so very little, when we have so much. “The generosity has been staggering, of money, time and effort.”
A friend of the church, who helped pack food boxes and travelled to Calais to volunteer said afterwards: “As a non-religious person, it warms my heart to know that there are so many good people in the world who will go the extra mile to help others.
“It is reassuring to know that in the darkness there are good people like yourselves.”