Two-year-old Zoey Moody was excited to be the first person to place a present under the Kmart Wishing Tree.

it is something Zoey's mum Brianna Taylor feels passionate about, saying is important to give to kids who may not receive gifts at Christmas.

"Fortunate kids get so much at Christmas time so it isn't anything off our backs giving presents to the less fortunate but it means so much to them.," Taylor said.

The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal was launched across the country and shoppers, staff members and members of the Tauranga Salvation Army were celebrating at the store in Bethlehem.

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The sound of Christmas carols and tunes from the Salvation Army Brass Band rung out across the store for the launch.

The long-running gift appeal is in its 24th year in New Zealand, encouraging people to put gifts under wishing trees in Kmart stores nationwide before the Salvation Army distributed the gifts to families in need.

Salvation Army community ministries manager Davina Plummer said Christmas was known as the "best time of the year", but that was not the case for everyone in the community.

"We want to help make that a reality for all families, especially ones who are far from that reality."

Plummer acknowledged Christmas was not only just about gift giving but said it was nice to be able to share gifts with those less fortunate.

"We know it's not all about presents it's also about caring for others. It's about sharing and taking the stress away from some families."

Kmart Bethlehem store manager Chris Keyte said the appeal was about helping those who could not afford to celebrate the joys of Christmas.

"Every donation is much appreciated and goes towards making Christmas the best time of year for those who are less fortunate."

Kmart Bethlehem Wishing Tree champion Gary Taylor said the appeal was important as it was about "making something special for kids who don't have much" during the festive season.

The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal runs until Christmas Eve, Saturday December 24.

How to get involved

-Placing a gift under the Wishing Tree at any Kmart store nationally
-Adding a little extra to your transaction by clicking the Wishing Tree logo on the self-serve checkouts
-Dropping your spare change in a coin collection box at any register
-Taking a bauble tag off the Wishing Tree and scanning the barcode at any register to contribute
-Giving online at kmart.co.nz/wishingtree