“You don’t realise what a huge difference a small donation can make…”

Local business owner, Ellie Rees, has shown she has a true heart of gold over the past month as she has supported numerous causes to help those less fortunate in our area.

Her first initiative started back in October as she led the way in supplying local food banks with some much needed donations from herself and other members of the Teesside Business Community.

When it was announced the government had voted against extending free school meals for disadvantaged children over the holidays (despite Marcus Rashford’s outstanding efforts with his campaign), Ellie decided it wasn’t enough for her to express her anger online. She felt she had the power and resources available to do more for the Teesside community, and that’s exactly what she’s been doing throughout October and November and is still continuing to do so this month too.

Announcing across her social media on October 23rd that she was going to be collecting and donating to a number of Teesside food banks to try and help make a difference during these dark times, Ellie, who runs her own social media consultancy agency, Collab Media, soon realised just how amazing the people of Teesside are and how their generosity can have such a positive impact on our community.

Ellie explains, “I know Teesside has such a generous community and so many of us were disgusted at the decision made by the government, including our Stockton MP Matt Vickers, that week. I’d heard that Matt was moving into the same office space as me that week, and I thought wouldn’t it be amazing if I could harness the power of the people in our community and collect all of these donations in our shared office space. I’d hoped it would make him feel incredibly guilty and maybe question his choices in the future too. Before I knew it, I was inundated with offers of donations, vouchers, money, etc. Over the space of one weekend, I’d filled my car five times with donations and dropped them off at the office. We also managed to collect £450 in vouchers to donate to the charities. It’s honestly been amazing to see what a difference these donations have made to all of the people involved.”

Some of the businesses who were kind enough to donate were; Viral Effect, Just Williams, Assist Network, DJM Drone Solutions, That Cake and That Pantry, along with many nurses, teachers and others who work in that sector and have first hand experience with the people directly effected by the #endchildfoodpoverty campaign. Donations have included all kinds of tinned food, pasta, cereal, toiletries, etc. Along with some requested items such as children’s school activities, pans, tin openers, colouring pencils and pads, and nappies. Ellie also put together a specific collection for The Amal Project, who create food hampers for families in the BAME community tailored to meet their dietary requirements.

Speaking on her feelings after visiting the local charities and meeting the incredible people who put so much of their time and effort into running them, she explains how it’s changed her outlook on life:

“It’s made me think differently,” she says. “For example, when I’m doing my food shop from now on, I will donate each time to the in-store collections. You don’t realise what a huge difference a small donation can make. I felt so humbled meeting all of these people and seeing the reality of what some of the people in our community face on a day to day basis. Looking at myself and my own spending habits, I can be materialistic in terms of throwaway fashion, meanwhile these kids don’t even have a school coat to keep warm in. It’s made me question the way I spend and invest my money and help other people. I should do more to help. It’s really opened my eyes up to the poverty, even on my way to work for example, I drive past these charities each day! This really has been an eye opening experience. I just want to say a huge thank you to every single person who has helped me with these donations, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this much on my own and I’ll be continuing with my collections for the foreseeable future. Any further donations or help would be greatly appreciated, especially at this time of year.”

After the huge amount of awareness raised and donations made over the past five weeks with all of her charity work, Ellie has now moved on to her next initiative of helping a local school with families in need of food hampers. After receiving a message earlier this week from an employee of the school, Ellie harnessed the power of her connections and social media skills again to raise money to help those in need. In just eight hours, her appeal had raised £1,325, with a total of £2,100 raised.

The money raised has gone towards creating twenty food hampers so far, and with the word still spreading about Ellie and her efforts to help in our community, we’re sure this figure will continue to rise over the coming days and weeks.

If you would like to do your part in helping our community too, all information is listed below:

The charities Ellie has donated to and visited are:

The White Feather Project | https://www.facebook.com/TheWhiteFeatherProjectTees/

Middlesbrough Food Bank (The Trussell Trust) | https://www.facebook.com/middlesbroughfoodbank/

Little Sprouts Charity | https://www.facebook.com/littlesproutshealth/

Hebron Church, Stockton | http://www.hebronstockton.org.uk/church-life/food-bank/

The Moses Project | https://www.facebook.com/themosesprojectstockton/

Amal Project | https://www.facebook.com/Amal-Project-Teesside-104830917967823/

You can find more information on the links above on ways you could help these fantastic charities to continue helping our local people.

As mentioned above, Ellie is currently collecting for Christmas food hampers and any donations at all would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to get involved in any way, please contact us here at The Tees or you can contact Ellie directly via her social media account: @elliereess


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