It's that time of year again when the Bay of Plenty Times and the Tauranga Community Foodbank are asking people to open up their pantries and their wallets to help families in need.

The Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal launches today and is the seventh year the paper has run the appeal for the foodbank.

Today we learn that the foodbank has this year helped feed the population of a small town, with more than 16,000 Tauranga people given a food parcel to help make ends meet.

Read more: Christmas Appeal 2017: Businesses, it's time to 'Fill the Bus'

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With an estimated population of 131,500, that means about 12 per cent of Tauranga's residents have asked for help this year to feed themselves and their families.

What struck me was reading comments from the foodbank's manager, Nicki Goodwin, who said more middle-income wage earners were seeking help.

Fancy earning a decent wage and still struggling to get by because of the ever-increasing cost of housing and living expenses.

It must be devastating to know that even though you're doing well by many standards, it's still not good enough.

That's why organisations such as the foodbank are so important to our society.

Life happens. So many of us live paycheck to paycheck, even those on a decent wage, and we get by perfectly fine - until something goes wrong.

All it takes is an unplanned change in circumstances - a family member dies, your car faces a major repair bill, you get sick and miss a period of work, your fridge breaks down - and all of a sudden, you go from getting by nicely to wondering how you'll pay the rent.

This is where the foodbank steps in.

The parcels the foodbank hands out aren't luxurious, they're meant to help bridge a gap until the next paycheck and are designed to last about three days. No person can get more than three parcels a year, unless there are exceptional circumstances approved by the organisation.

Each parcel is sized depending on the number of people being fed and each contains very basic food staples and hygiene items.

Depending on donations, the parcel may also include special extras. Nothing goes to waste.

Managing donations in the right way is hugely important to the foodbank.

There are systems in place to ensure food is only given to the genuinely needy, so donators can be sure their contributions are being used wisely and will make a real difference to our community.

As our city grows, so too does the number of people in need.

Each of us can do something small to help others at Christmastime, all it takes is a few cans from the pantry, a loaf of bread, a bag of sugar.

A little can go a long way.