Middlesbrough junior soldier Grace named Covid hero
published on 21 Sep 2020
A junior soldier who packed 100 food parcels a week during the height of the pandemic has been awarded the title of Covid Hero by the town’s Mayor for her voluntary work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nine-year-old Grace Kelly started volunteering at the church and community centre, known as a corps, at the start of April when her school closed as part of the lockdown. Despite the difficult situation due to the pandemic, Grace quickly had thoughts on how she could help the local community.
Grace said: “I’ve enjoyed helping. I’ve had fun while I was doing it. It’s been good to help people when they’ve needed it. I’ve also enjoyed making new friends with the volunteers.”
Grace’s parents, who lead Middlesbrough Citadel Corps, saw their daughter as a willing volunteer and gave her the job of ‘bag manager’ within the corps weekly food support service. Grace took on the responsibility of choosing which items to put in the food parcels and, as volunteers were kept to a minimum, packed the bags herself. During the height of lockdown Grace was singlehandedly packing food parcels into triple figures each week and her efforts weren’t just noticed by her parents, but they also caught the attention of the town’s Mayor, Councillor Andy Preston, who chose Grace as a Teesside Covid Hero.
Lieutenant Naomi Kelly, mother to Grace and corps officer (church leader)said: “When the schools all shut, we felt it was important for Grace to still have routine and stability and when she said she wanted to help the local community, a role offering support with the food parcels, and the wider church, made sense.
“For Grace to be recognised by other people for her volunteering work, and during a time of national crisis, means the memories will stay with her forever, she really is a true Covid hero.”
Grace attended the corps every day during lockdown and as well as packing food parcels for struggling local families she provided refreshments for the other corps volunteers.
Lieutenant Kelly added: “Grace has used the time to learn different life skills and see that sadly not everyone lives a privileged life. She has supported families with food parcels and has seen children come into the church with their families looking for help. She has always known part of what we do for the local community but has now actually experienced it and that makes us incredibly proud of her.”
Grace became a junior member of her Salvation Army church at the age of eight after a six-week church course which taught her how to be a follower of Jesus, how to help people and how to be a good Christian.