It’s been just six weeks since the Chorley Guardian, Chorley FM, and Chorley FC launched Project Feed Chorley – a campaign to raise £20,000 to build a new warehouse for the LW Storehouse food bank.
Today we can proudly reveal that the ambitious target has been smashed thanks to a wave of generous donations from schools, churches, businesses and individuals since the campaign launch on Tuesday, November 20.
The food bank is currently based in the cramped and damp cellar of the LivingWaters church, which requires most volunteers to work crouched due to a lack of height.
The £20,000 pot now means that the warehouse, planned for the car park of the LivingWaters church, can be completed over the coming weeks, fully paid for.
LW Storehouse co-ordinator, Carol Halton, said: “The whole thing has been one big miracle. It’s a massive step forward for everyone. It shows that when the chips are down the people of Chorley are ready to help – something that I think shows more in Christmas time. The community spirit allows us to look forward.”
In early December, Carol and the LW Storehouse team made the gutsy decision to start work on the warehouse following the campaign reaching its halfway fund-raising target of £12,500.
It saw Jeff Cotterell of Preston-based Berkeley Building and Construction Ltd start to lay the foundations for the warehouse.
The hope at the time was to try and reach the final goal before Christmas so that work on the framework could start in the weeks after the festive break – but framework has been erected earlier than expected due to the donations that have flooded in.
Carol, who has run the food bank since its inception seven years ago, said: “We didn’t have [the money] we needed – it was a step of faith. Now we are nearly up to roof level – Jeff has been working like crazy and it’s just been amazing.
“We still need to carry on now to finish the inside. We need to tile the floor, lighting, and new storage for goods.”
Carol made the announcement to volunteers ahead of Guardian photographer Neil Cross arriving last week to take some celebratory photos.
“We had children from St Joseph’s [Catholic Primary School] and Holy Cross [Catholic High School] there so it was a really nice community feel that captured what we’re about,” Carol said. “It was a manic day but fantastic.”
As well as being inundated with cash donations, food has been flowing in at a much quicker rate than usual – with the Morrisons at Clayton-le-Woods having to use a van to deliver the huge piles of food donated by customers during the festive season.
And the new warehouse means that the LW Storehouse team will be able to use the cellar that it currently works out of to store surplus goods that they otherwise have to turn away.
Carol added: “At the moment we are falling over bags in the cellar it’s that full. Maybe next Christmas we won’t have to turn away things like toys because we will have somewhere to put them.
“It will be much more organised and healthier for everyone; both volunteers and those collecting.
“We will be able to take more donations so we can help more people all around.
“And it’s not just about the warehouse either – it’s a lesson of what things we can achieve going forward.”