This Friday, Doncaster Rovers visit the Stadium of Light in what will be a huge game for Sunderland in their quest for automatic promotion.
However, the day also has significance for the club’s official charity, the Foundation of Light, who are using the game as a way to showcase all their good work.
The FoL has been a staple of the Sunderland community for over 20 years and has established itself as the leader in football charities.
Over the last year, the charity has done a lot for the community so here’s a list of just five events that have helped to fire up our city…
THE BEACON OF LIGHT
When the Foundation of Light was formed in 2001 by former Sunderland AFC chairman, Sir Bob Murray, the end goal was to have a facility that would serve the community and act as a home to the charity.
The Beacon was completed in 2018 and officially opened earlier this year with the Countess of Wessex officially unveiling the building.
Now, the building stands proudly next to the Stadium of Light and even lights up in our red and white colours on matchdays.
This building will be the hub of community activity in Sunderland and it exemplifies what the Foundation of Light is all about.
WATMORE NOMINATED FOR THE EFL PLAYER IN THE COMMUNITY AWARD
The Sunderland players have bought into the Foundation of Light, and the prime example of this is Duncan Watmore who was nominated for the EFL Player in the Community award.
Watmore has taken part in the Common Goal project and donates 1% of his wage to charitable causes and is a proud supporter of the Bradley Lowery Foundation.
Duncan said: “Being a footballer puts me in a very fortunate position to be able to not only fulfil my sporting dreams, but to also use the power of football to help make a difference to our community.
Every summer the Foundation of Light run a cycling challenge that sees local people, former players and even members of the SAFC coaching staff take part.
This raises a great deal of money for the Foundation and showcases the passion that people have for the charity because of the difficulty of the challenge.
Last year, Julio Arca took part and he helped to raise £1300 through his JustGiving page as he and the team rode through Croatia.
The Foundation will again be cycling this summer in the hopes of raising more money for the charity.
BOXING DAY AT THE BEACON
The Fan Zone has become a staple of the matchday experience for fans, but in winter it can become challenging to accommodate because of the temperamental north-east weather!
However, the Beacon of Light has now been used as a perfect venue for the club to have an indoor Fan Zone and to showcase the Beacon to the Sunderland fans.
On Boxing Day, we saw thousands of fans come to the Beacon to experience the Fan Zone and the event was a resounding success.
It showed that the club, foundation and the people of Sunderland were together as one.
Over 80 fundraisers swapped their beds for sleeping bags in November to raise money for youth homelessness charity, Centrepoint, and Sunderland AFC’s registered charity, the Foundation of Light.
Reality TV stars, Nathan Henry and Abbie Holborn from Geordie Shore and Sunderland players Robbin Ruiter and Alim Ozturk joined the fundraisers from the local community who managed to raise over £20,000.
The event was a true symbol of how people in the north-east have got together to tackle issues in the area and demonstrates the power of football to help those in need.