FREEMASONS from across the North West including Warrington, unable to meet due to COVID-19 restrictions, rallied round to donate £40,540 in cash and 82,653 food items to assist local food banks.
It is a sad fact that because of the pandemic, the demands on food banks have soared, and many disadvantaged and vulnerable adults and children faced the prospect of a Christmas with little to smile about. Throughout the North West, individual Freemasons wanted to help out, so it was decided to pull things together across the region to co-ordinate a more structured response.
Time was tight if a pre-Christmas deadline was to be met. Leader of West Lancashire Freemasons, Tony Harrison, put out a call just a few weeks ago challenging members from across the Province (which covers an area from Barrow and South Lakeland in the north to Liverpool and the Manchester suburbs further south) to join in an effort to help out by donating items of food, and identifying local food banks that would benefit.
The call was answered, and the response has been outstanding. In the run-up to Christmas, Freemasons across the Province have been collecting food, Christmas treats, toiletries and toys to donate to local food banks. It has been a co-ordinated effort, with the 19 groups within the Province utilising the local Freemasons Halls as collection and storage points. Many members, self-isolating or shielding, or just too nervous to go shopping, made monetary donations totalling £40,540, and 82,653 items of food and Christmas treats have been delivered to 29 food banks in towns and cities the length and breadth of West Lancashire, leaving plenty of time to ensure that they get to the needy in time for the festive season.
Thousands of toys have also been distributed. All this to the thanks and appreciation of community volunteers across the region who give of so much of their time and effort running food banks and supporting communities.
Tony Harrison, West Lancashire Freemasons, said: “Even though these are difficult and unprecedented times, no-one should have to go hungry, especially at Christmas. We are so glad that we are able to provide help and support to so many families across the whole of West Lancashire. Local freemasons have achieved all of this in just a few weeks and I hope the food, treats and toys that have been delivered will spread a little joy. We will continue to raise money and donate our time to serve the community.”