Donations flow in for families in need

By Genevieve Helliwell

Almost $5000 has been raised for Tauranga Community Foodbank in the first two weeks of the Bay of Plenty Times 2012 Christmas Appeal.

Donations of food and cash have been flowing into the foodbank and the extra goods have already made a huge difference to helping needy families this festive season.

The total includes $2455 in cash and 1472 items.

Foodbank chairman Mike Baker was blown away by the generosity of the Western Bay community.

"It's a fantastic effort and as well as raising food, the campaign is raising awareness so we're hugely appreciative.

"I think we're starting to gain momentum and support from the community, which indicates the campaign has the potential to meet last year's total of $53,000 or even beat it."

In the past few weeks, the number of people who have needed a helping hand from the foodbank has increased, with volunteers making more than 150 food parcels each week.

"We are so reliant on these volunteers, the foodbank wouldn't exist without them," said Mr Baker.

"These people are extremely generous, they're the backbone of this organisation and without them we couldn't open the door."

Between 40-50 people volunteer for the foodbank and each have their own role. Some are drivers and collect food from supermarkets, businesses and other donors while the majority are in the foodbank and make up the food parcels.

Mr Baker said Christmas was an extremely tough time for some Western Bay families and the foodbank was there to give them a helping hand.

He praised the efforts of volunteers and thanked businesses, organisations and individuals who had donated to the foodbank.

The Bay of Plenty Times 2012 Christmas Appeal asks people to donate a can of food - or any other item - to the foodbank between now until Christmas.

Volunteer Maureen Paterson

In her 15 years as a foodbank volunteer Maureen Paterson has seen it all - from hungry children to embarrassed parents, and people at their wits' end with nowhere else to go. While food is at the forefront of the problem, she's learned all situations will seem better after a hug.

"I talk with them, listen to their problems and sometimes give them a cuddle. I'm a giving person and I get emotional. I've been in tears with them before," she said.


"When they come in here they are so down and they're thankful for the help and that gives me huge rewards."

The 81-year-old spends most of her time making food parcels but also does the washing each week, does the dishes and cleans the toilet.

"We all have our own little jobs that keep us busy," she said.

You'll find her at the foodbank three days a week but when she's not there, she enjoys "running after" her eight great grandchildren. She's also a member of Probus and a gardening club.

"I am busy but I love coming in here and helping people."

Volunteer Robert McGruer

For the past 15 years, Robert McGruer has travelled from Katikati to Tauranga each day to volunteer at the Tauranga Community Foodbank.

He's dedicated, passionate and loves helping others. And he always has a smile on his face.

Mr McGruer spends most of his time at the foodbank, except during kiwifruit season when he works in a Katikati packhouse.


"I really enjoy working here," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"I lift all of the heavy things for the ladies and help put things on the shelves. There's always things to be done, always."

He enjoyed the company of other volunteers and said helping at the foodbank was a great way to help others who were not as fortunate.

" ... I know how vital this service is so I hope people will bring lots of food in because there is a huge need over Christmas and the New Year."

Volunteer Sue Wiseman

Giving back to the community is something Sue Wiseman has done for many years.

She's volunteered for the Red Cross, Tauranga Help, the SPCA and now is a regular volunteer at the Tauranga Community Foodbank.

"I like doing this and it makes me feel useful that I'm able to give back to the community," she said.

"I think I'm quite fortunate so it's really nice to be able to help others who aren't as fortunate."


Talking with some of the needy families and individuals who have come to the foodbank was "a real eye opener" and she encouraged others in the community to give their time to help others.

"The hugs and the kisses are worth it. Seeing that you've made a difference in someone's life is truly rewarding."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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