Sallies step up as Christmas puts heavy pressure on families

By Astrid Austin

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UNDER PRESSURE: Salvation Army's Major Alister Irwin said the downturn in the rural economy and increase in housing costs has seen a number of people needing food parcels. PHOTO PAUL TAYLOR
UNDER PRESSURE: Salvation Army's Major Alister Irwin said the downturn in the rural economy and increase in housing costs has seen a number of people needing food parcels. PHOTO PAUL TAYLOR

The festive season is meant to be a time of joy and celebration with family and friends, yet for many this is not always the case.

The Salvation Army Christmas Appeal is back again, aiming to help those in need throughout the country.

Salvation Army head of social services, Major Pam Waugh, said for New Zealanders who are only just getting by, Christmas adds extra pressure on top of the everyday bills and stress.

"Our appeal is about lifting up these families and giving them hope. Taking away that pressure and helping them have a truly happy Christmas that doesn't put them further into despair."

The worthy cause, which began this week, is calling on kind-hearted Kiwis to get on board the campaign.

"We want New Zealand to be known as a country that takes care of the vulnerable, and we are extremely grateful that at Christmas so many Kiwis want to make sure others don't miss out on enjoying this special time of year," Ms Waugh said.

This year, The Salvation Army is expecting to help 17,000 families and individuals in urgent need this year.

Salvation Army Napier Corps Officer, Major Alister Irwin said for Hawke's Bay, the downturn in the rural economy and increase in housing costs has seen a number of people needing food parcels.

"In Napier, Hastings and Flaxmere, the number of food parcels the Army is giving out has gone up 32.5 per cent already this year compared to the same time last year and more than 550 new families have needed help," Mr Irwin said.

"We are extremely grateful for the support we receive from New Zealanders who are so keen to share the Christmas spirit and make sure other New Zealanders can celebrate. Your donations really do bring hope to life," Mr Irwin said.

With the recent earthquakes sending shockwaves throughout the country, The Salvation Army had been quick in providing support for those affected, particularly at the epicentre in Kaikoura.

Mr Irwin said the main effect had been in providing more than 500 meals to people who were evacuated from Kaikoura and in Ward, as well as sending emergency supplies to Kaikoura with the New Zealand Army, including food parcels, water and hygiene products.

"It is still too early to say whether there will be a rise in the number of people needing more significant welfare assistance from The Salvation Army. We are working with Civil Defence and local authorities to provide both practical and psycho-social support in affected communities and we will continue to work with those communities for as long as we are needed."

People can donate to the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal by going online at salvationarmy.org.nz or by phoning 0800 53 00 00.

Non-perishable food items and Christmas treats among others can be donated through Countdown until December 18 and Kmart is collecting donations of gifts through to Christmas Eve.

Alternatively, people can bring any donations to one of their centres in Napier at 56 Tait Drive, in Hastings at the corner of Warren St and Avenue Road or in Flaxmere at 270 Flaxmere Avenue.

Due to ongoing demand, through the tough back to school period, The Salvation Army will continue to receive monetary donations into the New Year.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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