"Well done Leo, you've shown the true spirit of Christmas" – that's what proud colleagues at our Leigh store are saying about kind-hearted five-year-old Leo Kelly who raised nearly £2,000 for the local food bank.
Leo completed a 21-mile sponsored cycle to buy food for families who could otherwise not afford it this Christmas. He'd hoped to raise £100 for Atherton and Leigh Foodbank, but smashed his target after setting up a JustGiving page, raising a total of £1,890.
When the store's community champion Gwen Appleton heard about Leo's amazing efforts she pulled out all the stops to give him a day to remember when he called in with his mum Emma, grandma Moira and aunts Fiona and Anne to fill trolleys of food for the food bank.
And when fellow colleagues and customers heard what Leo had done they clapped and cheered him as he left the store.
Gwen said: "He's a local hero and we are pleased we had the privilege of helping. Warren, from the food bank who I've supported for the past seven years in store, was overwhelmed by Leo's efforts.
"It was such a lovely kind gesture for someone so young and it means so much, particularly at this time of year. We couldn't be more proud of him. Well done Leo, you've shown the true spirit of Christmas."
Gwen opened a checkout so Leo could help scan some of the groceries himself.
She said: "He loved scanning the items on the checkout, and he wouldn't sit down – he stood up all the time! He got all excited when everyone cheered him as he left."
The store also give him a little treat to share with his friends to say thank you.
Leo's mum Emma said: "Leo overheard it on the news about the Government not doing free school meals and started to ask questions, so I told him about families that often struggled and this led on to talking about food banks. So he said, 'Well I'll get some food' , but I said if you're going to do that you're going to have to raise some money.
"He knew about sponsorship through school, so he said he'd do a bike ride. At first he said he'd do 60 miles, but then he said 20 and even I thought that was quite a lot as the most he'd even done was eight! He did it with my boyfriend, Mark, and by the end they'd done 21.5 miles! We're all so proud of him."
When they'd got the money together, Emma spoke to Gwen she invited them into store to do the shopping.
Emma said: "When we walked in on the day everyone at the store was really helpful, especially Gwen. So much effort was put in to make him feel really appreciated.
"Leo loved going round the store. I brought my mum as back up thinking he might get distracted and want to go look at the toys but he was really, really into it.
"And because Warren from the food bank was there, saying we need this and we need that, Leo was finding the stuff and putting it in the trolleys. He loved scanning all the stuff through himself too, he really enjoyed it. Everyone in store did a big clap for him when he was leaving which was really nice."
The store works closely with the food bank, making regular donations, and there's a permanent collection point for the food bank in the store.
Warren Done, project manager at the foodbank, says he's thrilled by Leo's efforts.
Writing on the food bank's website, he said: "Leo is only five, yet he is so kind that he wanted to do something to help his community. Today he and his mum have bought us lots of shelf stable foods and toiletries as well as some fresh food. Bread and fresh fruit and vegetables can be difficult for foodbanks to supply, but Leo’s fund will ensure we can top up on fresh produce for some time. His hard work will mean that lots of local families will have food on their tables and we really can not thank him enough.”