Tauranga residents have offered up an impressive number of sewing machines to help Vanuatu families, with more than 50 machines donated during the week.

On Tuesday the Bay of Plenty Times published an article about Caroline Mason and her project to collect spare or unused sewing machines from Tauranga homes to take to Vanuatu to help families become self-sufficient.

Mrs Mason began collecting donations on Tuesday and in the first two days collected 20 machines. By yesterday she had more than 50 machines.

"I've had so many calls, it's really exceeded expectations," said Mrs Mason, who has been picking up most of the machines from around Tauranga herself.

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People have been thrilled to give the machines to something for good.

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"It's been quite moving. I've had people saying the machine was their deceased wife's and they haven't known what to do with it until now.

"Or people who can't see well enough to sew or have too much arthritis.

"People have been thrilled to give the machines to something for good.

"I am just so thankful to the generosity of people in Tauranga and the Mount," she said.

She picked the machines up in groups, planning trips to different parts of the city to pick up several machines at a time in the same area.

Read more: Old sewing machines help out Vanuatu families

She rejected at least four machines, either for being strange models she did not recognise which were "not worth taking" or for being part of a cabinet rather than a standalone electric sewing machine.

Machines collecting dust in Tauranga homes could make a world of difference in the lives of women in Vanuatu, she said.

Once shown how to use a machine, the Vanuatu women would be able to make clothes for themselves and their families and sew crafts to sell to tourists.

Mrs Mason said those who donated machines or anyone interested in her cause could keep updated on the project through her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Quilters-for-Vanuatu-1555756258022094