Grieving Borehamwood family raises over £36k to support those in lockdown
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Grieving Borehamwood family raises over £36k to support those in lockdown

Corona Care Challenge set up in memory of two sisters' grandfather, and has sent more than 150 care packages out to people in need during the virus pandemic

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

A Borehamwood family grieving the loss of their grandfather has raised £36,000 for those suffering the effects of the coronavirus lockdown after deciding to do something he would have wanted them to do.

The Corona Care Challenge, a crowdfunding campaign, was set up through Go Fund Me last week by sisters Samantha Shaer and Emma Miller together with several other members of the Landesberg family, most based in Hertfordshire.

Samantha and Emma’s grandfather Alan Landesberg passed away two weeks ago and Emma said the idea for the Corona Care Challenge came as the family sat down and reflected on his life.

“He died two weeks ago and had a funeral with lots of people but the shiva was private, just the family,” said Miller.

“He was very charitable. He used to give to organisations like the CST and Jewish Care. If he knew what was going on right now he’d have said ‘come on, kids, let’s do something to help,’ so we decided that’s what we’d do.”

Miller said the family, including Alan’s sons Andrew and Gary, decided to set up a crowdfunding page and watched as it took off.

“Within a week we’d raised £30,000,” she said. “We had access to a private underground garage in north London so all the goods got sent there and distributed from there. We’re following the rules on social distancing so we’re doing shift work.”

Emma Miller making care packages

The flurry of support came after the family set up a Facebook page which soon had 1,300 followers. “We’ve been getting messages daily, asking for deliveries for relatives and such,” said Miller.

“The majority of requests are from north London, we’ve delivered around 150 care packages so far, but we also have contacts at all the hospitals around the city.

“We have donated bigger packages to Barnet General, Watford General, Westminster and Chelsea, Royal Brompton, Royal Free, Hammersmith and the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, which now has its own Covid-19 unit.”

Shaer said: “Whilst we are all experiencing the uncertainty, our family feel really strongly about supporting those who are less able, less fortunate and are alone at this time.”

Matthew Webber, a top cardiologist at Barnet general who took a big package in to someone as part of the initiative

She added that there were “thousands of people who could really benefit from this so whilst we are fundraising to purchase the goods to make the packages we are also asking households to donate goods too, anything from frozen meals, toilet rolls, tins and non-perishable goods”.

Jamie Landesberg packing fruit

Miller agreed, saying: “It isn’t about the money. It’s about getting as many packages out as possible. The aim is to get a big supermarket on-board to bypass the need to wait for a delivery slot, so we’re trying to get one of them interested.

“At the moment we’re all out exposing ourselves when we’re shopping for these good. We’d like one of the chains. Ocado is owned by Jewish people, so you never know!”

Asked about the community’s response, she said members had been “hugely supportive,” adding: “For me it feels good to be able to give something back at a time like this, and I know Papa would have liked that.”

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