Time to start spreading Christmas cheer

By Roger Moroney

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YULETIDE: Christmas Cheer co-ordinators Renske Speekenbrink (left) and Jo Reyngoud get into the festive spirit of it all. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND
YULETIDE: Christmas Cheer co-ordinators Renske Speekenbrink (left) and Jo Reyngoud get into the festive spirit of it all. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND

For more than 3000 people throughout Napier and Hastings, Christmas will be a brighter time than it would have been had the community around them not stepped up to make it that way.

Since it kicked off in a modest way about 30 years ago, the Christmas Cheer Appeal has provided great parcels of gifts and food for those less fortunate in the community.

The appeal is under way again from today and will run until December 21.

It was started on a small scale by the Daily Telegraph newspaper and grew through the years, and was picked up and continued by Hawke's Bay Today. Today it is also driven by the cheer-leaders at the Napier City Council, Renske Speekenbrink and Jo Reyngoud, who is the Hastings District appeal co-ordinator.

It is also embraced by great teams of volunteers in both cities who give their time to sort and pack around 850 parcels which will be prepared.

Across both cities more than 60 social and community agencies have worked to provide the list of recipients, and as Ms Reyngoud found out after last year's appeal the community's caring means a lot.

She had many "thank you so much" responses from people, with one saying the Christmas parcel of goodies meant they could pay bills which would have otherwise taken the money they would have liked to spend on some special festive treats for the children.

"It means so much to them ... I was almost in tears", she said.

They would have been tears of joy.

It is Ms Speekenbrink's first year as the council's cheer co-ordinator. She said she was delighted to be part of such a strong community spirit when it came to assisting those in need at a special time of the year.

"There is such a great feeling about it all."

The cash donations received help pay for the large amount of food items which are bought for the parcels, while the gifts will create the smiles for all ages.

Gifts for toddlers to young boys and girls, teenagers, young men and women and people in their senior years will be needed, and family gifts like outdoor games and activities were always sought after as they brought everyone together to enjoy.

Aside from grants through foundations and trusts last year, members of the public, as well as schools, businesses and service groups, donated just over $14,500 to the Christmas Cheer Appeal, ensuring another successful event, and thousands of festive season smiles for those who would have otherwise struggled to provide something special for their families.

A long-time annual appeal contributor is the Duart Dinner Club, and as it did last year it has already called in to the Hastings office of Hawke's Bay Today with two great boxes of gifts they collected.

Real Christmas spirit shown by the community.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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