For most people the approaching Christmas season means making plans for what to buy as presents and how to give the dining table a festive touch.

Unfortunately, for many people across Napier and Hastings who are finding it tough, Christmas can be less than festive.

This is where the Hawkes Bay community, and those who help steer the annual Christmas Cheer Appeal, step up.

The appeal, which was first sparked up on a modest scale just over 30 years ago by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, has grown to become a valuable provider of cheer for more than 3000 people across the twin city communities.

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Today, the appeal has kicked off for Christmas 2017 and will run through until December 20. Already the community has begun to step up, Hastings appeal co-ordinator Jo Reyngoud said.

Yes, weve already had a few things start to come in.

Everyone wants to do what they are able to do for the appeal and thats wonderful to see, every little bit counts.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton started the appeal off strongly with a $250 donation.

Jo is into her seventh year at the helm of Christmas Cheer in Hastings and said this years appeal had got off to a solid start with several successful applications for grants from trusts and organisations.

Those, and the donations from businesses, community groups, schools and individuals were invaluable in helping pay the grocery bills for the Christmas parcels delivered to about 500 Hastings families.

For Hellene Overend it will be her first time co-ordinating the operational side of the appeal in Napier but her experience within community support is extensive.

She is part of the Napier Family Centre team, and the Napier City Council, which used to look after the operational side, has contracted that to the centre.

About 550 cheer parcels will be prepared for people in Napier with the appeal supporting 30 professional social service agencies.

For Hellene one of the highlights is when parents bring their children to a drop-off centre with a donation for a less fortunate child.

And seeing the creative way people show their kindness by donating a Christmas stocking for an elderly person, family or child.

In terms of goodies for the parcels put together by teams of volunteers, non-perishable food items fit the bill, as well as special Christmas treats such as chocolate biscuits.

And gifts for all ages from toddlers through to children, teens and adults.

Teenage boys were often the trickiest to find gifts for.

But it just has to be something little - its all appreciated, Jo said.

Hellene said sports equipment was always popular because the whole family could enjoy it.

Its such a great thing when the community gets behind this, to create real Christmas Cheer, Jo said.