Children save the day after foodbank stock taken from Stratford church

Children from Little Bears nursery outside St Paul's church in Stratford Picture: Little Bears

Children from Little Bears nursery outside St Paul's church in Stratford Picture: Little Bears - Credit: Archant

A vicar has hailed a “miracle” after nursery children delivered supplies to a church foodbank the morning after it was burgled.

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St Paul’s, in Maryland Road, Stratford, had the majority of its food taken just before holding a planned giveaway morning.

Church wardens worried families in need would be turned away until, in a surprise visit, children from Little Bear’s nursery in Cheering Lane, East Village arrived with bags of food.

Police said the suspected burglars, who are thought to have struck the church between 8pm on August 22 and 8am on August 23, have not been found but an investigation is ongoing.

“It was a miracle,” St Paul’s Rev Jeremy Fraser said. “That’s the trade I’m in, after all – I do believe in God doing things.

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“We were able to help people because of what the children brought, and they had no idea we had been burgled.”

Rev Fraser added that about £350 of food had been stolen, along with a “very old” computer.

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“It’s mostly tins of beans and packets of food we keep,” he said.

He added: “We want to warn other churches that this sort of thing can happen.”

The church has since launched an appeal for funds, which on Sunday “immediately” raised £600 along with hundreds of pounds of food.

“A really positive thing has happened,” Rev Fraser said. “People have perhaps realised we need stock all the time, that there are still very many people using foodbanks who need help.”

A crowdfunding page has also raised £1,260, while West Ham MP Lyn Brown has offered her support.

“Stratford foodbank is an essential lifeline to many people who find themselves unable to make ends meet,” she said.

She said the taking of the stock will hurt the most vulnerable in the borough, adding: “I would ask those who are able to afford it to donate to the foodbank to replenish their supplies.”

Meanwhile Janette Sheppard, Little Bears nursery manager, said the children learned a valuable lesson.

“The church was so grateful when we turned up – there was nothing there,” she said, explaining the unannounced food drop-off had been the culmination of their “harvest month” activity.

“It was like Little Bears had saved the day – we all felt pretty good about it.”

She added: “The kids absolutely loved it, and we’ve been trying to teach them about people who are less fortunate than they are.”

Ms Sheppard said from now on the nursery will look at bringing food to the church once a month.

To donate, head to St Paul’s directly or contribute through https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/churches-foodbank

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