Published: 15:19, 06 January 2021
| Updated: 15:29, 06 January 2021
More than 25,000 items of food were donated by the community to a Maidstone homeless charity, in response to its annual Christmas drive.
For the nineteenth year, the Kent Messenger backed Homeless Care's You Can Help campaign, which aims to secure vital donations of food, clothing and other useful items and runs throughout December.
Last month, school children, soldiers at Invicta Barracks, parishioners and good samaritans answered the call, giving generously and beating last year's total by over 10,000 items.
Angela Clay, from Homeless Care, which runs the Maidstone Day Centre for rough sleepers and a food bank, said: "There were many more donations than last year as people become increasingly concerned by the way in which Covid-19 is affecting homeless and vulnerable people.
"The campaign this year has been an overwhelming success. Our local community has come together to help those who would otherwise have gone hungry this Christmas.
"All of us at Homeless Care are so very grateful to the Kent Messenger and to everyone who has played a part, each kindness has made a huge difference to homeless and vulnerable people in our community.
"We have received generous gifts of food, toiletries, nappies and household items that will keep our store cupboards stocked up during these wintry days and towards the spring."
Cash donations also poured in from community groups and charities, with £10,500 received, which will go towards the annual running costs of £205,000.
Teenager Callum Dunne, 14, transformed his front garden into a winter wonderland, holding his very own, socially distanced Christmas lights switch on, in aid of the charity.
The day centre in Knightrider Street offers everything from showers and hot meals to housing and employment advice, while foodbank Food for Thought, helps those in crisis.
Food for Thought has seen a steep rise in demand during the pandemic from around 50 people in February to 120 in November,
The charity remained busy last month, handing out food parcels to 261 adults and 31 children.
It has also helped 50 local agencies and charities, such as the West Kent Drug and alcohol recovery service, with food parcels.