It is time to Fill the Bus for the Tauranga Community Foodbank.
Today the Bay of Plenty Times and The Hits radio station will travel around Tauranga in a Bayhopper bus collecting food and grocery donations from businesses, organisations and members of the public.
The first stop will be at 8.30am at Sport Bay of Plenty, and the last is expected to be around 4.30pm at Parklands Produce in Te Puna.
The bus, supplied by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, will make at least 24 stops throughout the day and the foodbank van will also be making its way around the city, visiting a further 12 places.
You can follow Fill the Bus live at www.bayofplentytimes.co.nz and on Facebook and Twitter.
The bus will also be making other stops at busy locations around Tauranga, and the public will be invited to drop off donations.
Radio station host Will Johnston will be on board and will cover the event for The Hits. There is a $500 food and beverage voucher from CBK Craft Bar and Kitchen to award.
"We've been totally heartened and surprised once again by the generosity of the business community in and around Tauranga," Johnston said last night.
"It's impossible not to get into the infectious giving spirit as more and more of them put their hand up to donate to such a worthy cause."
Yesterday businesses and other organisations were still being added to the Fill the Bus route and they will all be squeezed in today. Every donation counts.
"You're only ever a couple of bad decisions or bits of rotten luck away from needing a bit of a hand at Christmas time in the food department," Johnston said.
"These businesses recognise that and want to pay it forward a little for the community that they serve and that supports them."
Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said Fill the Bus was "such an exciting thing to be a part of".
"The foodbank van will also be travelling around Tauranga so it should be easy to spot. Sharon Hitchcock – the foodbank board chairwoman – will be on board for the ride as well as a few other volunteers.
"We have a crew of volunteers all ready to go at 5.30pm when the bus arrives at the foodbank to deliver the food."
NZME regional editor Scott Inglis urged the people of Tauranga to dig deep today.
"Fill the Bus will provide the foodbank with a much-needed boost leading up to Christmas and this is a chance for the city to come together and help those in need," he said.
"We have already seen so much generosity, and the Christmas Appeal total continues to climb. Thank you all, and please keep contributing to this worthwhile cause."
The Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal total now stands at $60,442.60.
So far there have been 10,567 food items (valued at $2 each) and $39,308.60
cash donated to the foodbank.