We hope all our Members and Friends are well during this uncertain time and we look forward to being able to see each other again in the not too distant future. COVID-19 is certainly a worrying time for everyone but we remain hopeful.
As you will all no doubt be aware, we have temporarily turned the Poplar Road club house into a food drop off and distribution centre for the Dons Local Action Group’s incredible project to provide support to the vulnerable in Merton, Kingston and beyond.
The Dons Local Action Group (DLAG) are a group of AFC Wimbledon Supporters who have banded together to help vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a keen AFC Wimbledon supporter, our ex-President Craig Wellstead was contacted to see if the group could use the Association’s club house as a hub for some of the donations. Many of you will know Craig and we aware of his incredible contribution to the club during his presidency, and therefore will know that he did his utmost to get quick approval of the Exec. However, I am sure Craig had no idea the scale of the project he was about to undertake and oversee.
Initially the donations were just from individuals coming to the Club, and they were housed in the shop. However with the help of our incredibly generous membership and local residents, the changing rooms eventually became full. No sooner than this had happened, Craig opened up the main bar area and the operation took off at an incredible pace. We currently take in a huge amount of donations which are collected by the Dons Local Action Volunteers on stalls all around shops in Wimbledon, Raynes Park, Morden and Mitcham.
From Sunday to Wednesday, the clubhouse operates as a hub for food donations which are sorted into types and then boxed up into essential food parcels by our wonderful group of volunteers. From Thursday to Saturday, Members and Friends of the ORA collect boxes and drive out to the vulnerable residents in the area. The deliveries include basic foodstuffs, as well as fresh milk, bread and fruit & veg. Last week we delivered more than 1,100 boxes which is an astonishing achievement. Individual boxes were sent out to over 800 families, and larger food donations were given to various community hubs, schools and homeless charities to name just a few.
There is no doubt that Craig has written an unprecedented chapter in Old Rutlishians’ Association history book. His ‘do-er’ attitude has enabled our impact to be much bigger than we ever imagined. His efforts would not be possible without the tremendous support from ORA Board of Trustees, Members and Local Residents. Special thanks must go to his daughter Emily, who takes reigns whilst Craig returns to Bexhill. We are also very lucky to have Adam ‘Reggie’ Perrin, Bob and our brilliant team of Old Ruts Volunteers from across the Football, Rugby and Cricket Sections who have gone above and beyond to support the local community. Mnisha Patel and Trimmo also deserve a special thanks for feeding hungry volunteers on Saturday with delicious Bacon Sandwiches.
The communal effort is a huge testament to the attitude and spirit of our Club and every single person associated with the work should be incredibly proud of what we have achieved so far.