North-West London shoppers have responded positively to the latest initiative by social-action charity Gift - a "buy one, give one" scheme.
The idea is for people doing their grocery shopping to purchase an extra item of dry, non-perishable food and deposit it in one of the "Gift boxes" sited outside kosher stores. Gift volunteers will collect the food regularly for distribution to local families facing financial hardship.
Two hours after the first of the three-foot-high plastic collection bins was installed outside Kay's in Golders Green, it had been filled with more than 300 items - almost 100kg of food. Up to 20 more bins will be outside shops in Hendon, Temple Fortune, Edgware, Stanmore and Borehamwood and there are plans to roll out the campaign to Stamford Hill, Manchester and beyond - and for other receptacles to be placed in synagogues and Jewish schools.
Although the initiative has been launched to coincide with the festivals, Gift director Michelle Barnett hopes that the scheme will be on-going. "At a time where everyone is feeling the pinch of the credit crunch, it is vital that we do everything possible to help those struggling to feed themselves and their families.
"We would like customers doing their Shabbat shop to make a point of regularly dropping an extra pack into our Gift boxes.
"This is such a simple concept, but the potential for helping others is huge and realistic. A donation of food items can make a real difference to Shabbat and Yomtov for families in need."
Set up five years ago and inspired and supported by Aish, Gift aims to promote a culture of giving and volunteering among young Jews. Overseeing its successful campaigns has earned Ms Barnett one of the shortly-to-be-announced Norwood Helping Hand awards.