Platform links local people willing to lend a helping hand

By Jonathan Dine

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Hastings Countdown manager Richard O'Mahony (left), "You made my day" founder Silke Whittaker and Countdown group manager Wayne Dohmen, with $100 worth of Countdown vouchers.
Hastings Countdown manager Richard O'Mahony (left), "You made my day" founder Silke Whittaker and Countdown group manager Wayne Dohmen, with $100 worth of Countdown vouchers.

There is no need to struggle alone, the creator of a community group says.

Silke Whittaker says she believes there are a lot of helping hands out there.

Her Facebook page, "You made my day Hawke's Bay", is dedicated to connecting vulnerable members of the community.

In the nine months the page has been going, it has gained momentum and more than 3000 members.

Mrs Whittaker said her vision stemmed from seeing how isolated some members of the community feel.

"There is just so much negativity out there, so I wanted to create a positive platform."

The group's purpose was for the Hawke's Bay community to exchange acts of kindness, bring people together, create a sense of belonging and to link people who can give a helping hand.

Countless acts of kindness have been exchanged through the page, ranging from baking for someone in need, food parcels, meals in restaurants for busy mums, accommodation for someone who needs a break, makeovers for mums, vouchers, beauty treatments, plants, excess fruit and free professional services.

The St Vincent de Paul Society recently donated 40 cords of firewood to give to 20 families in need this winter.

One particular feel-good moment for Mrs Whittaker came through helping a mother of three, including a teenager who battles severe depression.

"Money was tight and they needed a break," she said. So she managed to organise a stay at a bach through a generous member. The family was over the moon to have a breather from tough times.

Mrs Whittaker said there was a real need for basics such as groceries.

"Lots of families, solo parents and people in general, struggle to meet their basic needs which inspired me to contact our local supermarkets to see if they would be willing to donate food vouchers."

Countdown responded, offering a weekly $100 food voucher for a family, person or organisation in need for the next three months.

Every Monday a post on the page will ask for nominations with a recipient being announced on the Wednesday.

"There is no need to struggle alone, there might be a helping hand out there - it takes only a few clicks and a post in the group to give it a try," Mrs Whittaker said.

Business owners are not excluded, although the page is not a platform for marketing purposes, rather a platform to give back to the community.

"With winter approaching, it would be appreciated if the Hawke's Bay community could post surplus heaters, warm clothing, blankets, bedding, excess firewood, etc, so everybody can stay warm and cosy during the coming months."

- www.facebook.com/groups/youmademydayhawkesbay/

- Hawkes Bay Today

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