Harvest for the Hungry

The home of Harvest for the Hungry in Essex
Help Line 0845 050 9412
the story so far

H4H in Chelmsford began in 1999 and has been running every year since. You might be interested in how this project first came to Chelmsford and how it has attracted an amazing level of support from all areas of the community.

In 1999, we decided, as a church, to support Euroaid's Harvest for the Hungry project. They are a registered charity who collect boxes of basic foodstuffs which are then taken out to various churches in Eastern Europe. The churches are responsible for distributing the food to those in need and every box is accounted for so no aid "disappears" during the process.

Springfield Park Baptist church managed to collect 450 boxes in 1999 by working together with its pre-school group and the local primary school.

In 2000, we invited other local churches to come on board and so the "Springfield Associated Churches" worked together - Baptist, Anglican and United Reformed - each bringing their own resources and contacts to the project.

One of these contacts was Malcolm Tilsed, the manager of 'The Meadows' shopping centre. He kindly allowed us to have a stand in The Meadows for five weeks and this became the public focal point for the whole project. People could see a video showing the needs of the people in Eastern Europe and they could take away the empty boxes and return them to The Meadows once they had been filled.

We were also able to build relationships with the local newspapers and radio stations who gave us a tremendous amount of coverage during the project ensuring that the people of Chelmsford were kept up-to-date with what was going on. They also covered the input by Jeremy Spake.  The Eastern Bloc is obviously very close to his heart and his support helped enormously to provide publicity "moments" for the radio and newspapers.

This coverage also proved vital in making links with the fifteen schools who came on board that year. The school children came together and cut a CD, which was then sold to help raise the funds necessary to transport the boxes to Eastern Europe. We put out a request for local companies to sponsor the production costs of the CD and a number of Chelmsford businesses quickly responded and ensured that all the overheads were covered. This meant that all the sales income could go towards the transportation costs.  The local radio stations played the CD and the children and their schools were able to feel justifiably proud of their contribution to the project.

We sent out a total of 2,056 boxes that year. Even with that amount of aid, there was still room on the lorry so, as we had some cash still in hand, we decided to go round to Marriage's, the millers, to buy some flour. The cost proved to be above our means but, after a quick 'phone call to one of the managers, we were offered £400 worth of flour - free of charge. It proved to us, yet again, that great things can be achieved when individuals play their part.

In 2001, the project snowballed still further and, at the last count, there were 32 churches and 36 schools involved, not to mention the various groups, individuals and businesses who also came on board offering warehouse space, fork lift trucks and printing. We were able to send out over 4,000 boxes of aid together with a small group of self-funded volunteers who went to help give out the aid and came back even more convinced that this was a worthwhile project for the people of Chelmsford.

It's like an incredible jigsaw, thousands of individual pieces fitting together to make one huge picture, although I am beginning to wonder whether this picture does actually have any edges!   My hunch is that the picture will just keep on growing as the people of Chelmsford and Essex realise that they too can play their part in helping the innocent victims in Eastern Europe.

In May 2002, a small team went out to help redecorate one of the orphanages that received food aid in 2001. The team was almost a snapshot of the vast number of individuals who played their part in the 2001 project. There was the manager of The Meadows shopping centre, the son of one of the printing firms, a parent of one of the school children, two members of one of the Rotary Clubs, an employee of an electronic repair company and myself.

In 2002 Essex County Council endorsed the project and encouraged schools all over the county to take part, and in that year we sent 6324 boxes on 3 lorries.  That equates to about 68 tonnes of goods on 68 pallets, from 100 schools and around 45 churches.
We are excited as we see the very real difference this project makes not only to those receiving the aid but also to those who play their part and experience the satisfaction of working with others to do something so very worthwhile.

We are looking for people to endorse this project and so help send out the message not just to the people of Chelmsford but to all those living or working in Essex that, if we all play our part, together we can achieve something great.

Roger Stark, August 2003

Update, August 2006

An article from the Yellow Advertiser summarises some of the activities of Harvest for the Hungry in Essex. Click on the picture to enlarge it:

 

Me and my charity

 

Update, November 2007

The organisation that runs Harvest for the Hungry in Essex became a registered charity in its own right at the beginning of 2007. After several years working successfully with Euroaid at harvest time it was felt that we could do more by taking this step. We had already 'branched out' and were doing more than collecting boxes of food at harvest time.

We had begun that diversification by organising fund raising and practical work on other projects with the Hristo Botev orphanage in Berkovitsa. More recently there were the three ambulances we delivered to their new owner organisations in Bulgaria; surgical equipment for hospitals; refurbishing and refitting projects in other orphanages and old peoples homes, and taking gifts of woollen scarves, hats and blankets to the people in those homes when we delivered their food parcels and providing money for fresh food at other times of year through our partner organisations in Bulgaria. With all these added activities to consider we looked for a name that kept the link with our origin and indicated that there was more to come - and so we became Harvest Plus. At harvest time we still use the name Harvest for the Hungry for the project and we still work with Euroaid. Please join us with any help you can offer at any time of the year.

Harvest Plus has no paid employees and relies on volunteers sharing some of their precious free time for all the work that is done.