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More than 5,500 Evertonians came along to Goodison Park on Monday night to roar on David Unsworth’s high-flying Under-23s as they recorded an impressive 2-0 victory over Southampton to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League 2 table. 

The Goodison Park fixture also gave the young Blues a platform to raise awareness and vital funds for their inspiring ‘Home is Where the Heart is’ fundraising campaign to support the city’s homeless. More than £7,000 pounds were raised at Monday night’s game, taking the fundraising to date to almost £60,000; more than a quarter of the way towards the target of £230,000.

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Admission on the night was free for all and bucket collectors were situated around the ground to collect donations and, in typical Blue fashion, Evertonians gave generously with donations and raffle ticket sales for the Everton Lotteries team. 

The Under-23s JustGiving page also received a flurry of donations in the hours leading up to kick-off both online and via the text to donate option.  

Captained by Jonjoe Kenny, the young Blues warmed up in specially designed ‘Home is Where the Heart is’ t-shirts before walking out at kick-off to Z-Cars accompanied by junior mascots who each paid for the exclusive VIP experience.

For those Blues who couldn’t travel to L4, an exclusive live stream option was available with commentary provided by Darren Griffiths and Ian Snodin. Hundreds of Toffees tuned into the stream from destinations as far flung as Colombia and Australia, raising almost £2,000. The live stream was delivered thanks to the kind donation of services from existing club partners Stream AMG and ADI. 

Stream have been the Club’s streaming provider for several years, becoming a major player in the sports video sector and provided the live feed to the club for free. ADI, based in Preston, have been Everton’s production partner for over a decade and donated the use of the Fan Zone screen and matchday production for the fixture.

Everton’s web development agency Rippleffect also contributed by discounting the development costs of the sign-up portal for fans registering to watch the game.

The campaign was further boosted by more than £8,000 worth of in-kind donations including all staff who worked on the night doing so free-of-charge. A workforce of more than 100 staff ensured that the fixture was a success including volunteers from the stewarding and car-parking teams, Fan Zone presenter and stadium announcer Graeme White, photographers Tony McArdle and Robert Eagleton, Fan Zone team Lee Silk and Ben Anderson, as well as operating staff from ADI. Local band The Stilia also performed on the Fan Zone free of charge. 

Sodexo, the Club’s official catering partner, also donated 20 per cent of all kiosk sales to the young Blues’ fundraising campaign and Fan Zone catering unit Willow Catering also kindly gave 20 per cent of Monday night’s sales.

Launched in December and led by David Unsworth, the ‘Home is Where the Heart is’ campaign aims to raise £230,000 to provide a supported-living initiative for young people between the ages of 16 and 23. 

Aside from offering young adults who have fallen on hard times, or have perhaps fallen out of the care system, a roof over their head in difficult times, the ‘Home is Where the Heart is’ campaign, with the help of Everton in the Community, will also play a large part in their development by providing access to key services, including health and wellbeing support and assistance with education, employment and training. The scheme will also encourage those youngsters involved to contribute to the local community through the NCS programme and volunteering.

To donate directly to ‘Home is Where the Heart is’, click here.

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