Up to 150 families living in emergency accommodation have been gifted an early Christmas present thanks to the generosity of a Tauranga woman.

Angela Redwood individually packed and sorted children's backpacks and adult versions.

Each parcel was named and included pyjamas, toiletries, a journal, and even home-baked cookies.

Children also received a teddy bear, a lunch box and a drink bottle.

Advertisement

"I grew up in a bit of a dysfunctional family myself, and I remember what it was like to be disassociated with things, especially around Christmas time, not having things that everyone else has at school," Redwood said.

"I kind of empathise with some of the things some of these families are dealing with.

"Personally, I would have loved just something to start fresh with. Hence, we came up with the bag."

She gifted the bags to families as part of a Santa Carrus picnic Christmas party at Saint George's Church in Gate Pa for Te Tuinga Whanau residents, staff and supporters.

Redwood said she wanted people to know they weren't alone.

"I wanted things that a) had a lot of meaning but b) would be really useful. I just wanted to give people a piece of my heart, having known what it's like."

Redwood said she had an illness which meant she could no longer work. Instead, she and her mother had gradually built up the parcels over three months. Yesterday was the first time she had seen all the bags together.

"I just burst into tears. It was one thing to be doing it but when you saw it there, for the first time ... It was quite overwhelming. The smiles on the kids' faces made it all so much worthwhile."

Among the gifts on offer at the party were 10 guitars and 20 ukeleles donated by Legacy Trust.

Te Tuinga Whanau patron and Carrus managing director Paul Adams joined several others in playing Silent Night on one of the ukeleles.

Adams said it was heartwarming to see so many children who did not usually get many gifts receiving something.

Councillor Terry Molloy and Labour List MP Jan Tinetti also joined the party.

Te Tuinga Whanau director Tommy Wilson said the party was a way of bringing together the people who had helped, and those who had received help.

"It's our way of recognising each other. It's also a celebration of what we can do."

Twelve months ago, Te Tuinga Whanau had just the one house for emergency accommodation. Today, the charity has 10 houses and 12 motel rooms.

Joanna Pesamino and sons Robert Tama, 2, and Angel Tama, 3, enjoy their presents handed to them by Labour List MP Jan Tinetti at this year's Te Tuinga Whanau Christmas Party. Photo / George Novak
Joanna Pesamino and sons Robert Tama, 2, and Angel Tama, 3, enjoy their presents handed to them by Labour List MP Jan Tinetti at this year's Te Tuinga Whanau Christmas Party. Photo / George Novak