NEIGHBOURS in three Helensburgh streets have helped donate hundreds of items to the area's food bank after collections were organised during the weekly clap for carers.

Residents of Empress Drive, Fraser Avenue and Mains Avenue gathered bags full of vital supplies which were gratefully received by the Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank on Friday.

The idea was sparked by Barbara MacDonald, group Scout leader of the 4th Helensburgh Scouts, and she was helped last week by fellow Scout leader Nicola Boutell and her son Logan Hill.

Barbara told the Advertiser: "We [4th Helensburgh Scouts] meet up at John Logie Baird Primary School but we store all our kit in a storage area in Churchill, which is what the food bank use for their main storage.

"That's how we got to know them. They come to our Cubs, Beavers and Scouts to talk about the food bank, and the Scouts help them out with regular collections for them during the year.

"I wish I'd started it sooner but all of a sudden I was going through some old Scout photographs, because I'm bored and I've got nothing to do, and I saw some food bank ones, so I thought I could arrange some collections at my house.

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"I put a trolley out in my front garden and put a note through everybody's doors – there are about 100 houses in the three streets – and we got a fabulous return, so my plan is to do it every Thursday now.

"Some people were extremely generous and we collected around 150 items last week."

People living in Craigendoran Avenue have also collected and donated items to the food bank recently with wheelbarrow-loads full of goods making their way to the centre after the past two Thursdays.

And Barbara said she's been delighted with the response to her appeal so far.

She added: "It was all stuff the food bank wanted, like dried food, tinned food, cereals; somebody donated dog food which was brilliant, it wasn't on the list but it's something that they need.

"The need has increased exponentially and the people who work at the food bank are very busy because there's a huge turnover now, and they've lost Waitrose now which was always a good contributor.

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"But other shops are stepping up and other people are helping out, so the people of Helensburgh are doing pretty well supporting them."

Last month, 9,000 items were handed in to the food bank with more than 8,500 given out to those in need. April also saw 100 more food bags distributed compared to the same period in 2019.

Mary McGinley, chair of the Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank, praised the local community for the level of donations and kindness shown since lockdown restrictions were enforced.

She said: "We have been amazed at the level of support from the local community.

"It's been great and so much so that we are at the stage where none of the essential stock items are running low.

"That is the first time that has happened and we only ever used to see this level of donations and support at Christmas time.

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"We also have a waiting list of volunteers because there are so many people wanting to help.

"We really appreciate the amount of support Argyll and Bute Council are giving the community through the Caring for People helpline and the food donations hub at Hermitage Academy.

"That means that the food bank is doing what it is set up to do and we are able to work alongside them.

"Although we've been busy we know a lot of people who are vulnerable or self-isolating are getting food from them, so we've not been overwhelmed.

"I just hope that the caring and sharing we are seeing is something that lasts beyond Covid-19."

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