As the Red Tower closes for another year, detailed preparations were made over the weekend to prepare for the last food distribution. As the food just appears as if by magic on a Monday morning, it is worth reflecting the work that goes into providing the food for the bags.
Mo is at the heart of the food provision. Week in and week out she prepares the bags of food on a Sunday and early Monday morning in time for food distribution in theory at 10.30 but often much earlier. At Xmas, she makes every effort to make things even better particularly since we are closed on Boxing Day. This year, she spent at least two hours on Sunday bringing across extra supplies from Waitrose to add to those provided by two volunteers, Ian and Bill, collecting from supermarkets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. On Monday, she was in at 8am to finish the bag preparation.
She takes great care to curate the bags of food and extras to the needs of the individual or family. Selection boxes went to those with children, extra food to larger families and extra gifts of toiletries to those who might benefit. Shopping trolleys were groaning under the weight of the bags that were carted away and bunches of flowers topped the bags. Given the energy crisis, flasks and travel mugs supplemented the supplies and duvets are piled high in the Tower for those that need them.
Mo is not alone. She has a team of elves to help her shuttle the bags downstairs and take orders. By comparison with larger outfits, the Red Tower is small and can only do so much but the goodwill and generosity of the volunteers and those who donate is priceless. It reminds us that there is goodness and generosity, and the world is a better place with care and compassion.
The story does not end there. At the end of the session, Mo cleans up and visits the houses of those unable to collect their food. Ian takes the remaining food to other centres which include the Bell Farm Social Hall, St Deny’s Church and the Haxby Memorial Hall. Some material is collected for compost, so nothing goes to waste.
We all regret the fact that all this is needed in the first place and the fact that it has been normalised. But, for the time being, we are where we are.
The last word should go to Mo. She normally has the last word:
Text to me: ‘Just to say what a brilliant day for our lovely clients. They all went home with a bit of Christmas joy, flasks, chocolates and a few more treats. It made their day and they could not thank us enough’.
Mike Calvert Director
P.S. In case this blog entry seems self-congratulatory re the Red Tower, let me just say that this scene is being played out in literally thousands of food banks, community centres and elsewhere this Christmas. Mo is not alone but she and many others are driven to do exceptional things.