Christmas appeal to help foodbank

By Amy McGillivray

The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend today launches its 2013 Christmas Appeal, which for the next six weeks will be seeking donations of food and cash to help Tauranga Foodbank continue its work during the Christmas period and into next year.

Individuals, families, schools, businesses and community groups have donated more than $120,000 worth of food and cash during the last two Christmas appeals.

A total of $67,008 was raised in last year's appeal and $53,169.57 was raised in the 2011 appeal.

The appeal is asking locals to show some generosity by donating food or cash this year to help needy Tauranga families. The appeal will be run through the paper, its website, and will have support from the Classic Hits breakfast programme. Street appeals will be carried out again and businesses and schools are welcome to take part and their efforts will be acknowledged by the Bay of Plenty Times .

The Bay of Plenty Times has kick-started the campaign by donating $1000.

Other businesses and community groups are challenged to get behind the campaign and donate what they can as well. The amount raised will be calculated by valuing each item at $1.50. Cans of baked beans donated during last year's appeal were being given out until March and the community's generosity made it possible for the foodbank to provide milk powder in its food parcels for the first time this year.

Foodbank chairman Mike Baker told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend last year's appeal inspired one person to set up an automatic payment of $150 a month, which is still coming in.

"The generosity of people is astounding," Mr Baker said.

Many people who visited the city's only foodbank never expected to find themselves in such a dire situation, he said.

Business people whose companies had collapsed and working families stung with a large and unexpected bill such as car repairs made up a large portion of the charity's work.

"Coming down to the foodbank is the worst experience of their life for some people. It's begging for some people," Mr Baker said. "We're here as a helping hand for people, who at a specific time, have a need. Things can change very fast."

Tauranga Community Foodbank was only expected to be needed for three years but 23 years later demand is as high as ever, with the busy Christmas period looming.

Mr Baker said about 7000 food parcels are handed out each year.

Demand for help this year had remained about the same as last year as the economy began to pick up but still about 25 to 30 food parcels worth $40 to $50 were handed out every day, Mr Baker said.

"At Christmas time there is huge demand because Tauranga's a nice place to go to and people from out of town come to stay with family and suddenly there are issues," he said.

All donations were welcome but baby products and personal hygiene products were top of the wish list, Mr Baker said.

Nappies, infant formula, baby food and baby soap were too expensive for the foodbank to buy but were always in demand as about 60 to 70 per cent of the clients were solo parents.

Toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo and soap were rarely donated because they did not have expiry dates. The foodbank also regularly buys eggs, potatoes, rice, flour, sugar, spreads, meat and containers.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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