We launch our Observer Christmas appeal - and we want your help!

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Christmas is a time of feasting – but we’re calling on readers to spare a thought for those who can’t afford to splash out on treats...or even basics this year.

Today sees the launch of the Observer Christmas appeal, and we’re supporting our local foodbanks and the families in need they work with every day.

Our annual appeal aims to help local people in crisis by giving them a healthy helping hand at Christmas.

All we want you to do is bring a few tins of warming soup, packets of hearty pasta or boxes of tasty mince pies to the Observer offices in Chichester and Bognor Regis.

We’ll be collecting all these and more, then passing them on to the Chichester foodbank and the Bognor Regis foodbank as part of the Christmas trEATS appeal.

The Chichester-based charity, part of The Trussell Trust’s national foodbank network model, which has launched 270 foodbanks throughout the UK since 2007, is run by Pastor Bruno Kondabeka and his wife Joanne. It opened its doors on September 10 to help provide emergency food for people in crisis.

Chichester Family Church, in Orchard Street, has become the distribution centre for the project which is working in close partnership with a number of different parishes in the area. The city’s residents have already supported the foodbank generously, with many local schools sharing their harvest festival offerings to be passed on to those in need.

At both foodbanks, all food is donated by the public and sorted by volunteers.

Frontline care professionals such as doctors and social workers identify people in crisis and issue a food voucher; they then receive three days of nutritionally-balanced, non-perishable food in exchange for their food voucher.

In Bognor Regis, the foodbank, which operates from Waterloo Square, got off to a flying start when it opened in April with nearly a ton of groceries donated by generous shoppers to kickstart the scheme.

It is going strong – but still needs your help this Christmas.

Observer editor-in-chief Colin Channon said: “We felt that many people will be needing a hand from the foodbanks in our area during the festive season, which is why we’ve launched out Christmas trEATS campaign.

“Supporting our appeal couldn’t be easier – just add an extra item or two to your weekly shop, and then drop it into the festive boxes in our Observer office receptions.

“Every little bit will make a difference and make a local family in need smile this Christmas, so please help out if you can.”