Following the Santa’s Red Helpers appeal during Christmas 2020, when 80,000 meals were donated to those in need, the Foundation and FareShare Greater Manchester once again joined forces in the new year to support families through the Foundation’s partner school network.
For eight weeks leading up to Easter, 383,000 food items were diverted by FareShare and distributed by Foundation and club staff to 40 schools across Greater Manchester.
United legend Wes Brown, who was on hand to support the campaign, said: “This shows Manchester United Foundation and FareShare’s commitment to supporting local families during what has been a stressful time for a lot of people, so if this delivery helps to take one thing off their mind then it helps out enormously.”
More player support came later in the year when club captain Harry Maguire and goalkeeper Tom Heaton surprised students at Brentwood School and Community College in Sale. In their first community visit since the pandemic began, Harry and Tom met with Brentwood staff, before greeting students and participating in a physical activity session. The players took part in boxing, basketball, and football drills before racing students on bikes on the multi-use games area.
“It’s definitely something I’ve missed, coming here to put smiles on kids’ faces, making memories with them and have a little bit of fun ourselves,” Harry said. “When I first joined the club, I realised how much the Foundation does in the community, so I’m delighted to be back, and I know all the lads feel this way too, we’ve missed it.”
Earlier in the year, Harry was joined by fellow club captain Katie Zelem to help promote an initiative, which provided 5,000 wellbeing books and balls to children as part of the Foundation’s work in the mental health space.
"The ‘book and ball’ is a great way for children to learn ways in which they can improve their mental wellbeing which is so important during this time,” Katie said. “I hope it really benefits many in the community.”
There were also some incredible fundraising efforts from our loyal fans and staff, starting back in February when young United fan Samuel walked, ran and cycled the distance - 272 miles - between his home and Old Trafford. Then, in September, United We Stand editor and well-known Red Andy Mitten cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats, covering almost 1,000 miles and raising over £15,000. This figure was then matched by the club, with all proceeds going to help facilitate training and provide resources to thousands of young people so they can learn defibrillation, CPR and the basics in first aid.
There was more amazing work in the following month too, when eight runners – including Old Trafford staff – took on the Virgin Money London Marathon and collectively raised an incredible £18,000.
And the year was to finish on yet another high during the second annual Santa’s Red Helpers Christmas appeal, which united fans, staff and players in helping to support the local community. Once again proving the unifying effect of the Foundation, players sent messages of support to young people in local hospitals and helped to pack presents which were then delivered by staff. The Foundation again partnered with FareShare Greater Manchester, and in a joint donation with the club, pledged £100,000 to provide 400,000 meals for families in need.
Fan groups including M.U.S.T, The Red Army, MUWSC and our global network of supporters’ clubs also embarked on their own donation and fundraising drives, highlighting a truly united effort.
Despite the successes of 2021, the Foundation’s valuable work continues. If you would like to take up the fundraising baton yourself, then please click here.