It’s not something you see every day: a lecturer, dressed as Santa, running around a college campus filling shopping trollies with food.
But this is 2020: a year in which, it seems, anything can happen.
The lecturer in question, London South East Colleges’ (LSEC) career pathway director, Stuart Blackmore, was dashing down the halls in aid of FE Festive Food Bank Friday and, in just 40 minutes, he raced around the Bexley College campus collecting hundreds of food items donated by staff and students.
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Emergency food parcels
Earlier this year, LSEC launched FE Food Bank Friday, a campaign in which staff and students donated monetary and food items to create emergency food parcels for those in need.
More than 30 other colleges across the UK got involved and, in total, £47,500 was raised – the equivalent of 905 emergency three-day individual food parcels.
Following the success of the campaign, in October, principal and chief executive Sam Parrett announced that a festive version was to be launched. College staff and students were encouraged to take part in a “Santa Dash”, asking them to match the number of kilometres they walk, run or cycle – while in a festive outfit – with a monetary donation.
Ho, Ho, Ho.....it's the East Coast College Santa Dash!— East Coast College (@EastCoast_Coll) December 4, 2020
Our CEO Stuart Rimmer has pledged to complete 10km for the #FestiveFEFoodbankFriday campaign to raise money for our local foodbanks and you can take part too! Over to Stuart....
Donate at: https://t.co/NS1ZTqRId0 pic.twitter.com/Br4mZMdNlN
#Lockdown #Runstreak complete: I’ve run at least a mile every day since lockdown began, now on #Day27 and the advent calendar has been opened. Best keep going, ready for @LSEColleges #FEFestiveFoodbank #SantaDash Anyone else managed a run/walk/bike/something? Streak? pic.twitter.com/48hbCIpCGQ— Louise (@LouiseWolsey) December 1, 2020
Final preparation this morning for our staff awards and bringing together #FEFestiveFoodbank hamper donations from teams across @LSEColleges Bromley campus. Good to see the Student Hub getting into the spirit! @Andrew_Cox1 pic.twitter.com/pLtrP4mtvM— Louise (@LouiseWolsey) December 16, 2020
After three months of tireless campaigning from staff and students, more than 19,028 food items have been collected and more than £3,700 has been raised.
‘A veritable hive of activity’
LSEC’s group director of strategic growth and partnerships, Andrew Cox, led the food bank campaigns and coordinated them throughout the UK.
He said: “I’m delighted that we have finally reached the point where we can make those last deliveries in time for Christmas and knowing that we can feel a sense of collective pride in what we have achieved.
“It’s marvellous to see how staff and students have worked together in the final couple of weeks, with a Christmas panto recorded for staff and parents to download; the design and production of luxury food hampers – these really are top quality – along with hair and beauty students putting together stocking fillers for sale in our salon at Bromley.
“Add to this our SEND [special educational needs and disability] students crafting beautiful Christmas gifts and selling them via a mini market in our Nido Volans gardens, the college has been a veritable hive of activity.”