Teenagers help Sainsbury’s and Argos brighten a million Christmases

Sainsbury’s and Argos have launched a new ‘Help to Brighten a Million Christmases’ campaign to encourage one million food and toy donations in stores across the UK. The initiative expands on Sainsbury’s year-round food bank scheme and will be run in partnership with thousands of charity partners across the UK, to distribute the items to local communities in time for Christmas.

A group of National Citizen Service (NCS) graduates from Exeter have played a major role to help kick-start the campaign, inventing new on-shelf labels to highlight priority products for donation. The teens spotted that customers were noticing the food bank donation bins after finishing their shop, meaning it was too late to purchase products for donation. As part of a social action project organised through the NCS programme this summer, the 13 teenagers created a dedicated shelf edge label to remind customers during their shop. After successfully pitching the idea to store manager, Sarah Spurling, in Sainsbury’s Exeter, the labels were implemented in store and donations tripled as a result.

Sainsbury’s and Argos have worked closely with the teenagers, who are 16-17 years old, to develop the idea and the labels will now be rolled out nationally to all Sainsbury’s stores across the UK to launch the Help Brighten a Million Christmases campaign and highlight priority donation items in store. As Sainsbury’s food donation scheme runs year-round, the labels will continue to remain in stores after the 16th December, becoming a permanent fixture. Argos customers will be able to donate toys in store until 16th December.

Claudine Blamey, Sainsbury’s Group Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, comments, “We’re excited to be working together as a Group to expand Sainsbury’s food donation programme and to launch Argos’ toy donation programme. We are committed to making a positive difference in local communities and we hope our customers get on board to help brighten the lives of those less fortunate in the community.

“It’s been brilliant to work with NCS graduates to permanently roll out their fantastic label initiative to all our stores and help reach our target of one million donations.”

Mark Richardson, manager of Exeter foodbank, said: “Teenagers these days often have an unfair reputation for being unengaged with the world around them, so it’s great to see young people being empowered by programmes like NCS to go out into their communities and make a difference.

“The results of this initiative just goes to show that sometimes you just need a new mind on an old problem, sometimes the most simple ideas have the greatest impact. This campaign has already had fantastic results locally, and I’m excited to see how it can benefit food banks and their clients across the UK.”

To date, 12 million hours of social action have been completed by NCS participants and research has found that following the programme, NCS participants feel more able to have a positive impact on the world around them.

Paul Adnitt, Curriculum Manager at NCS Trust, said: “The first two phases of the NCS programme equip young people with the skills and confidence to make a difference, before we challenge them to design and deliver social action projects in phase three.

“We couldn’t be more proud of this group of young people for the impact they’ve already made in their local community, and the even bigger impact their idea is set to have across the country.”

Aimee Darke, Corporate and Events Fundraiser for Family Action, added: “We are delighted to partner with several Sainsbury’s and Argos stores across the country, helping bring a little Christmas magic to the children and young people we work with through donations. Christmas is such a special time of year but can also come with added stress for any family. Being able to support them with something as simple as a gift for their child can really turn around their Christmas.”

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