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Helmsley launches Angel Advent Calendar appeal to boost supplies at Ryedale Food Bank ahead of the festive season

Businesses in Helmsley are launching an Angel Advent Calendar to help those in need in Ryedale this festive season.

Using the idea of the ‘reverse advent calendar’ as inspiration, where people collect one item every day in the run up to Christmas to donate to a good cause, the town will be making collections for the Ryedale Food Bank in November and December.

Launching on 2nd November, to coincide with the Small Business Saturday Bus Tour visiting the town, the first phase of the appeal is for items which will be needed in the run up to Christmas. These include:

Items for this first phase of the Angel Advent Calendar can be dropped off at Helmsley Outdoors, Libby Butler Jewellers, Snooty Fox and KVA Planning until 25th November. The last chance to donate will be at the Walled Garden craft units’ late night shopping event on 25th November, to allow time for the festive items to be distributed to those in need before Christmas.

The second phase of the appeal will then start on Small Business Saturday (3rd December) and run until 22nd December, focussing more on ongoing items needed and in short supply including soup, sponge puddings, tins of potatoes or instant mash, UHT Juice, tinned meat, toiletries and hot water bottles. These can be dropped off on Small Business Saturday or at a later date at any Helmsley in Business member.

Helmsley in Business is behind the campaign and member businesses will also be making their own donations of relevant items. Some, such as Hunters of Helmsley and Helmsley Traditional Sweet Shop, will also highlight inexpensive gifts and relevant products within their stores for customers to buy and donate.

The Ryedale Food Bank, which opened in July 2013, is currently helping more than 40 families a week, and reporting that there is “exceptional need” in the region. It has helped 2,721 people in total since launch, 485 since April this year and 96 in the month of September alone. Food bank clients who are referred by GPs and agencies bring a voucher to one of the food bank centres in Malton and Pickering, where it can be redeemed for three days’ emergency food. Around Christmas time it plans to give clients something extra and a small gift in a special Christmas bag.

Carolyn Frank, chairman of Helmsley in Business (HiB) and owner of Libby Butler Jewellers, said: “Talking to the amazing volunteers at the Ryedale Food Bank, it struck me that so many of us in Helmsley have so much at Christmas – there’s a fantastic atmosphere, plenty of food and drink and lots of giving and receiving of special gifts.  But in contrast, there are so many families in crisis who are desperately struggling right on our doorstep in Ryedale. We felt it was important to do something to help make their Christmas just a little bit easier and nicer, and small items can make all the difference to a local family in need. In this day and age it’s unbelievable that there are families who have to choose between heating and food, and who can’t afford any gifts for their kids at Christmas.

“Helmsley has permanent collection points via our Churches, but the members of Helmsley in Business wanted to boost this over the Christmas season when there is greater need, especially with the colder winter weather coming. It felt like with the launch of the town’s Angel Festival this year, it was a great time to do this. People can donate one item, or ideally collect one a day as a reverse advent calendar suggests – but anything will be much appreciated.”

Helmsley’s Angel Festival will launch on 3rd December, to coincide with Small Business Saturday, and run until the 5th January.  Inside and out, the town will be taken over by a host of angels of all shapes and sizes  – with businesses, residents and local organisations all getting involved. There will be angels everywhere – made out of anything from flowers, cakes and willow to lights, gems and performance art.

Helmsley will also continue its long-standing support of Small Business Saturday, the grassroots campaign which encourages people to support local businesses. The town will be hosting a day of activities, music, performances, animals, fairground rides, book signings, special offers and competitions on 3rd December, treating visitors to a bit of fun, as well as helping them to do a spot of Christmas shopping. The town has been chosen to host the Small Business Saturday tour bus on 2nd November, when businesses from across the region are encouraged to come along to find out more.

For more information about the Angel Advent Calendar, call into one of the collection points or go to www.visithelmsley.co.uk . To find out more about the food bank or to enquire about receiving help visit www.ryedale.foodbank.org.uk