SCHOOL children and their families have been digging deeper than ever for those less fortunate than themselves to collect a record number of hampers for the local food bank.

Haughton Academy, part of the Education Village, Darlington, has collected 100 boxes of goodies responding to the COVID crisis in fine fashion.

Organised by culture for learning lead Liam Taylor and assistant head Andrew Hinnigan, the cache of Christmas fair was transported in the school minibus to the King’s Church Food Bank in Whessoe Road.

As an added festive touch maths teacher Jayne Deakin helped students perform some origami magic so each box was accompanied by a tiny Christmas tree.

Mr Taylor said: “This is the best we have ever done since we started collecting at Christmas about nine years ago and for the King’s Church for the past five.

“When you consider that 50 per cent of our students are from disadvantaged backgrounds and that everyone has been affected by the pandemic in some way, then this is a truly fantastic achievement.

“It seems strange that we should have food banks in 2020 but as Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has highlighted there is a great deal of need in our communities.”

King’s Food Bank manager Caroline Todd said people’s generosity during the pandemic had been overwhelming.

“This is such a lovely example of the generosity of spirit that exists among our young people,” she said.

“They really have gone above and beyond what we expect from children and it gives us hope for the future that they will carry this into adulthood.”

She said when the pandemic struck they were worried that donations would dry up but the  opposite had happened. “It’s been like Christmas every day,” she said.

“But I don’t think we have seen the worst of it yet and this is just the tip of the iceberg as the full impact of COVID begins to come through. That said, the way people have reacted so far has been inspirational and gives us hope.”