'We've been overwhelmed': Second day of appeal by Skegness cafe for Ukraine families fleeing conflict is cancelled after 'massive response'

They came in their hundreds to give vital supplies for the families fleeing the conflict in the Ukraine.

Packed cars from across the Skegness area lined up along the seafront to unload their donations at a drop-off point organised the Seafood Cafe.

Those on foot brought armfuls of warm outer clothing and personal hygiene items for the volunteers to sort and children clutched their unwanted toys - a gesture to bring a sense of normality to the reception centres set up in Poland for escaping Ukranian refugees.

Others just took along cash or touching letters expressing that Skegness people were thinking of them as the war against the invasion of Russia rages on.

And when the volunteers became completely overwhelmed with the massive amount of donations, another drop-off point at Jollyes pet store continued with their collection.

It is not surprising that the plight of the Ukrainians has touched the Skegness community so deeply. Many seasonal workers come from Europe and some have even settled here.

Skegness Grammar School students, who I accompanied on an Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps tour, must also have been moved by scenes of desperate families at Ukraine railway stations saying their farewells - so similar to the images we had seen on display of Poland in the Second World War.

Even so, the generosity of Skegness area people has been 'overwhelming', according to the organisers of the local efforts.

On Monday, four van loads of donations collected at the Seafood Cafe left the coach park heading to an international haulage company at Stallingborough near Grimsby which is transporting items to Poland and the Ukraine.

Another van load left Jollyes for a depot in Enfield, where items are being taken not only to Poland but also into the Ukraine for those left behind to fight for the cause.

Dave Charles, owner of the Seafood Cafe, said more than 10 volunteers turned up to help and vehicles were queuing along the seafront throughout Saturday morning.

"We've been overwhelmed," he said. "The intention was to start collections on Saturday at 10am, finishing at 2pm, but people started arriving arriving at 9.15am.

"Our expectation was that over the two-day period it would be great if we could achieve close to two vans full of donations.

"To our amazement, within a three-hour period we had donations to the equivalent of five vans.

"That being the case, and knowing what the collection point we are delivering to could handle, we decided not to continue the collection into Sunday.

"It was humbling to see the number of people coming to us with donations, including the elderly who were asking us what we needed and coming back with £40 worth of items."

Onlookers also found the efforts of volunteers and the local response emotional.

Charlotte Parker said: "The amount of cars pulling up when we dropped off some bits this morning was absolutely fantastic.

"I got choked up and had tears - what a fantastic community we have."

Helen Roe commented: "So pleased to be able to donate earlier today and proud of the people of Skegness who supported such a worthy cause."

Sue Nelson sat watching while she was having a coffee. She said: "Well done everyone. Skegness has been amazing. After our donations we had a coffee and sat and watched as the cars turned up."

Last week Dave and some of the volunteers to a collection point in Boston next to the TK Maxx to check how other local efforts were operating.

"This war is so heartbreaking that many people want to do something to help but don't know how," he said. "We wanted to do something in Skegness but had to make sure that any donations we received got to the families who desperately need them.

"When we went to have a look at how a centre in Boston is operating on Tuesday, we were delighted to see that of the 10 volunteers there, apart from one Polish lady, everyone was British.

"It's wonderful to see so many people of different cultures pulling together to do something to help."

Items from Skegness are expected to reach their destinations before the end of the week.

"The shipping company who are taking the goods to Poland and the Ukraine have told us the donations will reach their destinations before the end of the coming week," said Dave.

"We'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone who donated and offered support and the volunteers who came to help.

"We are now monitoring the situation to see if there is more we can do."

Collections are continuing to take place at other locations in the Skegness area, including Jollyes pet store on Quora Retail Park in Burgh Road.

Sarah Ringsell has been accepting items at 62 High Street in Wainfleet daily from 7am to 7pm and taking them to Jollyes. From there van loads of donations are being taken to a lorry depot for transportation.

Sarah said: "I've just dropped off the second lot at Jollyes pet shop.

"They are doing an amazing job. The staff and myself have also put £20 each in a fund to do a big shop at Aldi which is lovely."

Items being taken include:

Bandages; plasters; first aid kits; baby formulas; nappies; wipes; nappy cream; toilet roll; calpol; paracetamol; toothbrushes; toothpaste; ladies sanitary items; deodorant; shampoo; baby food jars; tinned food; dried food; baby bottles; children’s small toys and activities (new or nearly new - colouring books, colouring pens, teddies, footballs; towels; protein bars; pet food; blankets; batteries; sleeping bags; flasks; thermal mugs; tea bags; coffee; disposable cutlery, plates and cups; puzzles; soap;

Related topics: