Leeds Community Foundation (LCF) has over the weekend set up the page via Virgin Money Giving after a campaign of support to help feed hungry children and provide relief to struggling families continued to gather pace.
The fundraiser has been called the Leeds Healthy Holidays Fund and says it will support vulnerable school children and their families by distributing grants to local projects addressing holiday hunger through nutritious meals alongside sport, creative and social activities.
LCF has been running such schemes for several years, in partnership with Leeds City Council, but the work of footballer Marcus Rashford in highlighting the need for free school meals, coupled with local and national reaction to a government vote not to back the extension of school meal vouchers for use during the school holidays has led an outpouring of support and goodwill from all corners of the city.
Leeds United players have donated £25,000 out of their own pockets towards the Healthy Holidays fund and that was later matched by a further £25,000 from the football club.
LCF says it will continue to work with a wide range of partners across Leeds to deliver healthy holiday programmes that tackle hunger, isolation and inactivity.
Since a Labour Party motion to see the schools meals vouchers extended was voted against by Conservative MPs there has been a coming together by the city from offers of sandwiches from local butchers to the thousands of pounds coming from Leeds United.
On Friday night the Leeds United Supporters Trust made £40,000 from fans who chose to donate £14.95 to the cause rather than pay BT Sport Box Office fee it was charging to watch the Aston Villa game. That will be donated to the Trussell Trust's Leeds South East and Leeds North West foodbanks.
Last night a list of 36 locations across Leeds where children can access free school meals was issued by Leeds City Council.
Coun Jonathan Pryor, the Executive Member for Learning, Skills and Employment said: “In the face of a dire situation, it has been inspirational and quite emotional to see the good in the citizens of Leeds shining through.
“Thank you to all those businesses contributing, and to all those volunteers giving their time too. Your efforts will make the world of difference to so many people. Thank you too to those who have donated money, including Leeds United players and fans. It is an excellent example of the city’s ongoing commitment to pulling together to support those in the greatest need.”