You often get more done if you pool resources. Back in April last year, Colin Tonks, Almoner and Charity Steward of the Wellington Lodge in Deal, Kent was thinking along those lines. The COVID-19 pandemic was creating difficulty and hardship in the area and demands on the local food bank were growing fast. The food bank was providing tins of food and other ingredients, but more was needed. People wanted ready meals
'What if we all got together and got something going for local people?' Thought Colin.
Freemasons in Deal and Sandwich were contacted and responded immediately. Caterers at Masonic Centres were feeling the pinch under COVID-19 restrictions, but Deal’s Terry Price, Catering Manager at River Catering, was ready to cook and was provided with the necessary funds. Local farmers C J Bean & Sons were happy to supply vegetables for free. The Deal food bank initiative was born. Twenty nourishing meals of bangers & mash and cottage pie, each with a healthy dollop of vegetables, were cooked, frozen, packaged up and delivered to Deal Food Bank twice a week from April to October.
Following their success, in the autumn Deal Freemasons dug deep into their pockets again and turned their attention to Linwood Under Fives Playgroup, Victoria Memorial Hospital and local charity United Families, funding and providing frozen ready meals to all three organisations – and they still do so today.
Says Colin, 'We are particularly keen to see that children are well provided for and we will continue to give as much as we can and obtain extra funding if possible to help us meet our goal.'
Linwood Under Five’s Playgroup Deal.
As part of Deal Freemasons supporting our local community who are undergoing hardship, we had a discussion with Linwood under 5s pre-school where we ascertained that support was needed, in part to help raise funds to replace their existing play area. We provided with a 4 week limited delivery of meals for their young children, and worked with them to help raise funds for the essential groundwork.
United Families is a new venture in Deal, offering advice, support and assistance to those enduring difficulty. Their public approach is more measured and tailored to individual scrutiny and needs. After a meeting with the groups, we are now supplying a further measured quota of meals to United Families as and when required. Our presence and activity within the locality appears well known and this journey has shown me personally how local people favourably see and perceive us as a society.
I have received private and non-associated donations towards our food supply and various gifted items that I have passed over to United Families. Items such as these can be used to enhance this time of year for those left behind.
For example, a large box of unwanted new and boxed various perfumes, individually wrapped by United Families then inviting selected Mums and children to come along, receive a Christmas gift and a surprise for the children together with all sufficient ingredients to cook a proper family Christmas dinner.
Victoria Hospital, Deal
As of Monday 21st December, Colin will be making weekly deliveries to Deal Hospital. As the local hospital is currently busy, the input will greatly assist night staff and the emergency care unit. I can say that all three recipients are the most worthy causes for our practical assistance, humbled by our concern and generosity sending their many thanks and best.