Christmas appeal tops $40,000

By Ellen Irvine

Thanks Tauranga.

The Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal closed yesterday having raised a whopping $46,838.67 for Tauranga Community Foodbank and there's still more coming in.

The provisional total includes 25,956 items and $20,882.67 in cash, but foodbank chairman Mike Baker said the community had been so generous, there was still food to be picked up.

Each food item was conservatively valued at $1, most items would be worth far more, with generous gifts including boxes of chocolates, Christmas mince pies and puddings donated as well as basics.

Schools, businesses, church and community groups and individuals have risen to the challenge, donating goods and money throughout the six-week appeal.

This time last year the foodbank shelves were empty. Now they are bursting and will keep the foodbank going until the middle of next year.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

"I was thinking if we got $20,000 that would have been beyond our wildest dreams.

"We have more than doubled that - it's out of this planet," Mr Baker said.

"How much can we express thanks to the community?

"I have said amazing, tremendous, fantastic, unbelievable.

"There's only so many words.

"A big thank you to everyone, and Merry Christmas from all the volunteers at the foodbank."

In addition, the foodbank has received more than 500 non-food items such as blankets, toasters and wrapped Christmas presents, which have been given to other organisations to be distributed to the needy.

Mr Baker said people had walked in off the street writing out cheques for $100, while one woman who brought a bag of food said the foodbank had helped

Christmas appeal tops $40,000Editorial: A12her family last year and she wanted to give back. The lead-up and aftermath to Christmas is the most difficult time of the year for the foodbank.

Just yesterday, more than 40 food parcels were handed out, likely to be Christmas dinner for some families.

Bay of Plenty Times editor Scott Inglis said the appeal had been extremely successful and had surpassed his expectations.

He was astounded by the generosity of the community in donating money, and food, at a time when many were struggling to get by.

The donations would go towards local people in the greatest need, he said.

"I'm overwhelmed at the generosity of Tauranga in supporting this appeal," Inglis said.

"It really shows that this city has got heart and a community spirit."

Appeal highlights included a mammoth can drive by the Tauranga City Sunrise Lions Club, which collected more than 2000 items.

Large donations were received from the Port of Tauranga ($6000), Mount Maunganui RSA ($2000) and the Rotary Club of Tauranga ($2000).

On Thursday night, The Little Big Night Market and singer Tiki Taane collected a huge amount of money, which has not yet been counted in the appeal total, including $1000 in notes and four full buckets of gold coins.

Papamoa 6-year-old Zahnee Campbell showed the spirit of "paying it forward" when she gave up birthday presents, instead asking guests to her party to bring items for the foodbank.

And Bay of Plenty Times staff hit the streets of Bethlehem, Mount Maunganui and Otumoetai in three can drives, collecting food items door to door with the help of the Tauranga Fire Service.

Other businesses to help the appeal include Westpac, which was a drop-off point for food items and cash; Fitco; Young Read Woudberg Ltd; Cooney Lees Morgan; Imbibe and De Bier Haus.

Schools that collected for the cause included Aquinas College, Matua School, St Mary's Catholic School, Papamoa Primary School, Otumoetai Intermediate, Greenpark School, Tauranga Girls' College, Bellevue School and Otumoetai College.

The foodbank also wishes to thank businesses and organisations which donate year-round.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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