Sonya is the head of news at the Bay of Plenty Times.

Christmas appeal: New foodbank chairwoman takes the reins

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A new chairwoman has taken over the reins at the Tauranga Community Foodbank.

Board member Sharon Hitchcock was formally appointed chairwoman after the resignation of Alan Plunkett on November 2.

She has been a trustee at the foodbank for two years and was a volunteer before that.

Mrs Hitchcock said she had always been involved with community groups. Before joining the foodbank, she had been on the Otumoetai College Board of Trustees for nine years and when living in Wellington, was involved in Victim Support.

Mrs Hitchcock also lead the recent Melbourne Cup fundraiser at ASB Arena.

She decided to join the foodbank when she realised she did not want to sell houses soon after getting her real estate licence.

"I felt quite lost after no longer being on the Otumoetai Board of Trustees for the past nine years.

I couldn't get a part-time job, so decided to do some voluntary work.

"I had read about the foodbank in the paper, so rocked on down there and next thing I was a volunteer helping out one day a week. I then decided to use my skills and progressed on to the board.

"I like being involved in the community in some way to help the not-for-profit sector."

She would not be making any drastic changes to the way things worked at the foodbank, but said she did have goals she would like to reach.

"I have had a personal goal this year to try and encourage more groups in the community to work together and share resources. I would like to see the foodbank be leaders in this area and as a board going forward we will look at who else in the community we can work more closely with."

She also wanted to have the foodbank recognised for the way it ran as an effective not-for-profit business by possibly entering the Westpac Business Excellence Awards.

Other goals included continuing to raise awareness of the foodbank and - importantly - finding a way for the foodbank to pay rent for the first time in April.

The foodbank was an important community resource, she said.

"It provides a service to those in need at different times in their life. We're not there just for a certain kind of person. Different people's circumstances change - we're a non-judgemental place.

"We just fill a void in the community."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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