A SCHOOL has rallied around its community as the pandemic continues to push more people into poverty.

Pupils at Haughton Academy, Darlington, and their families, went to extraordinary lengths to collect provisions and presents for people they see as being worse off than themselves.

Fourteen-year-old Sam Morton spearheaded a campaign that resulted in boxes of toys and toiletries being donated to the Salvation Army for distribution among those in need.

Another 71 boxes of provisions were collected by the school and donated to the King’s Church Food Bank, in Whessoe Road, the eighth year pupils have helped the charity.

Sam said: “I just realised that a lot of people might not have any presents coming this year and I wanted to do something that would make them feel happier. It was brilliant to see how generous people were and I was over the moon about how much was donated. It is wonderful that people are prepared to do this at a time when many are struggling.”

Head girl Aimee Cassidy, 16, helped pack the school minibus with the 71 boxes for the food bank. She said: “Around this time of the year there are people who are not as fortunate as us and it makes me feel so proud that I have been part of something like this. It is joyful to be able to give people a sense of having someone.”

Head boy Tom Kipling, 16, added: “We pride ourselves on our ability to help out in the community and I think collecting for the food bank is a great idea.”

The food bank charity the Trussell Trust has reported 125,000 visits regionally and 2.5m nationally by people requiring support.

Culture for learning lead Liam Taylor said deprivation had definitely worsened because of the pandemic.

“It has been an amazing effort by our pupils and their families given the fact that many of our community have been struggling and a lot of pupils have been off ill,” he said.

King’s Food Bank manager Caroline Todd said she continued to be overwhelmed by people’s generosity, particularly during the pandemic.

“I saw a train of boxes being unloaded from the back of the school minibus which was wonderful,” she said.

“The pupils have been truly amazing when a lot of people have found themselves impacted by the pandemic.

“We have seen an increase in the number of people using the foodbank, particularly families; these really are difficult times for everyone, yet people recognise the needs of those in poverty and continue to support us which is great.”