Food appeal gets great results in Waihi

"This is huge," said the Salvation Army's Major Heather Kopu when she saw the amount of food and presents in Waihi Leader's office on Monday afternoon.

Food and presents were filling the window and spilling on to the floor.

Major Heather said the amount of food and presents given by Waihi would help the organisation immensely.

When Waihi Leader decided to do a Christmas appeal for the Salvation Army, newspaper staff never thought it would be so successful.

Editor Fritha Tagg said filling the window became a bit of a challenge.

"We put a sign in the window saying we wanted to fill it and every couple of days we moved the sign as the amount of food grew, and gradually we moved the sign up the window."

"Every day people would come in clutching bags, presents, food or a couple of items. It all added up. They seemed glad to be able to help.

"Some brought their children in and they gave the presents or the food, and helped put it in the window.

Fritha said they needed to resort to a little "window stacking", adding first a small table, then chairs and a desk from the Salvation Army to get the next layer of items into the window.

"We called the Salvation Army and asked for more help and they brought down a set of shelves - which we filled in minutes."

Mayor Heather said the amount of food and presents collected means they can now get great Christmas hampers out to families in need and will have more food to help others throughout the year.

She explained the Salvation Army would often buy food to make sure no one went without and some years after Christmas all the resources had been used up. It was hard to supply the needs when the cupboard was bare. "We never turn people away but it can be hard," said Major Heather.

She said small-town Waihi has needs that out-strip its size.

"More social ministry is needed here, more demands we seem to have medium-town needs in a small town.

"The last couple of years I have seen more families with older children needing help and many families who are working but struggling to make ends meet. These are not beneficiaries, they have jobs, they're just not that well-paid and often expenses mount and they don't have enough.

The Salvation Army works with other social agencies in town to compile a list of families and individuals who will be given the Christmas hampers.

"Hampers go to those in need and also to those who have worked hard throughout the year, often paying off debt, getting their lives together," said Major Heather.

"We encourage them for the effort they have put in. We are not in the business of a 'hand-out', rather it is a 'hand-up'. Thank you, Waihi people for your kindness, your generosity and thanks to Waihi Leader for putting the Christmas appeal together - that window is very full."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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