THE COLIN community is putting its shoulder to the wheel as Christmas fast approaches with the launch of the Mount Eagles Community Centre’s food and toy drive.

Sinn Féin activist Joe Baker told the Andersonstown News how he and the Mount Eagles Youth group are working to ensure that those in need receive food parcels and that no child “will wake up without a toy on Christmas morning”. 

“We started off a food drive during the first phase of lockdown,” he said. “As we went into another lockdown the response we have had is amazing. 

“We have been out delivering food parcels and have very quickly realised there are many families out there living very close to the breadline, they were asking us ‘what are we going to do coming up to Christmas?” Joe explained how as well as the food drive the group are collecting toys as well. 

“No matter what, on Christmas morning, no child will wake up without a toy. That is our aim, that is our goal. No child will go hungry or be left out at this time of year.”

Joe said that their food and toy appeal, which was launched three weeks ago, are coming in thick and fast, along with  donations. 

“We delivered to 18 families on Monday so the need is very much there. The community response has been fantastic, it’s been humbling. 

“People are coming together to help and it’s going brilliant. You do see the best of people. We work with all the community groups in the area, Good Morning Colin, Colin Neighbourhood Partnership (CNP) to reach out to the elderly as well. We are there for absolutely everybody.”

He continued: “All our deliveries are Covid compliant, we protect those we are delivering too and protect ourselves so that our own families are protected.” 

When asked if he thinks the group will see an uptake as the countdown to Christmas gets underway Joe replied that the need is there. 

“If people want to donate to the drive they can do so at CNP’s Cloona House, Saints Youth Club and the Mount Eagles Spar. We have been approached by the Lagmore Youth Project who have offered their new marquee as a drop off point and Morelli’s in the Dairy Farm as well. 

“I just want to thank all those who have so kindly donated so far, every person and business. We can’t thank you enough and we will work to make sure people have a Christmas.”