Kind Laura gives food for thought

Kind Laura gives food for thought

1 December 2021

DOWNPATRICK woman Laura McCann is someone who always thinks of others.

When she was a pupil at St Brigid’s Primary School in the town she asked her friends to donate money in lieu of presents for her sixth birthday and raised £125 which she presented to the Convent of Mercy in Zambia.

Now aged 21, Laura reached her milestone birthday on November 11 and once again instead of presents, asked her family donate items for the Fountain Foodbank based at Downpatrick Presbyterian Church and was overwhelmed by the response.

Since the foodbank opened in 2015, it has given out almost 6,000 food parcels, helping 17,100 people. Currently, the volunteers are helping to distribute 25 parcels a week to people in Downpatrick and the surrounding area.

The number of parcels is twice the numbers that were being distributed before the coronavirus pandemic.

Laura said she was aware of the foodbank and decided that she wanted to help by asking her family and friends to make a donation towards the great work it does helping those in need.

She also revealed that she saw her photo in a recent edition of the Down Recorder as a six year-old girl handing over the cheque raised at her birthday to Sr Vianney and Circle of Mercy members.

Fifteen years later, Laura said she thought her 21st birthday presented a good opportunity for her family and friends to donate items to the foodbank, revealing that people she didn’t even know also supported her which was very kind of them.

“I was aware of the foodbank as I often passed the trolley it has at the Asda store for people to make donations. I just wanted to do my bit to support the charity and was delighted with the response to help others,” she said.

Laura described the response of people to her suggestion to donate items to the foodbank as “incredibly generous” and revealed a full car load of items was taken to the charity.

She was accompanied by her parents, Claire and Paul, and was greeted by volunteers who helped put the food in the dedicated store, ready for packing and delivery.

“I cannot thank my parents, friends and family enough. I am so grateful for their support,” said a delighted Laura.

“People were very generous and while I initially asked my relatives for support, some people that I did not know also donated. Everyone was very generous and the donated items will help families in need. Thank you again to everyone who supported me.”

The foodbank says all generous donations are put to good use to help those in need in the community, with those who receive parcels very grateful to the generosity of others whose compassion is having a positive impact.

Volunteers who run the service say people use foodbanks for a variety of reasons, including low incomes, redundancy, illness, benefit issues, homelessness, family break-up, domestic violence or simply an unexpected bill.

In addition, crisis situations can occur for lots of different reasons, with the foodbank working closely with frontline professionals to identify individuals in need of help by using a voucher referral system.

The volunteers who run the foodbank say they continue to be overwhelmed by people’s generosity and thoughtfulness to help those in need and who find themselves in difficulty through no fault of their own.

“We would like to thank Laura and her family and friends for their recent donation which will be used to help those in need,” said foodbank co-ordinator Shirley Lennon.