Firewood warms family's hearts after theft

By Sonya Bateson of the Bay of Plenty Times -
Benjamin Foster, 6, with firewood donated to his family after all their wood was stolen. Photo / Joel Ford
Benjamin Foster, 6, with firewood donated to his family after all their wood was stolen. Photo / Joel Ford

Offers of help have been flooding in for the Foster family who had all their firewood stolen while spending what is likely to be their last holiday together.

The family, including father Rob, who is dying of bowel cancer, faced a cold, hard winter after their supply of wood was stolen.

They returned home this week after a seven-day trip in Fiji to discover the theft. An anonymous friend had paid for the trip.

Phone calls and emails offering the family firewood - ranging from a small boot-load to an entire truck-full - flooded in to the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday.

Mr Foster was staggered by people's generosity and their quick response.

"The phone started ringing at about 8.30am and it's just been constant with people saying 'I can't give you much but here's a boot or trailer load'. The generosity is overwhelming."

Mr Foster said he had tried to help bring in the first load but couldn't. The cancer had spread through his body, tumours in his spine causing a lot of pain and making movement difficult.

"Being a cancer sufferer, I want to say thank you. I'm so incredibly grateful and thankful for this unexpected generosity from people who we've never met."

Mr Foster's wife, Tori, said they had received about 12 phone calls by lunchtime yesterday, all offering help: "The callers have been amazed that people would be low enough to steal somebody's firewood. People have been so generous and wanting to do everything they can to get us some wood so we can be warm."

She said donations had come from people who had been touched by cancer and knew what the journey was like. So many offers had come through that Mrs Foster said they would be able to burn the fire 24/7 to keep Rob warm all day.

"One guy who offered a truck-load also asked if there was anything else he could do to help and suggested an electric blanket so Rob would be warm in bed.

"If people want to help in any other way, petrol and food vouchers are always helpful. I hate asking for stuff but when you're on a benefit, things are tough."

When the Bay of Plenty Times was speaking to the Fosters, a woman and two of her family members turned up with wood. The woman, who wanted to be known only as Ann, said she had been a nurse and knew what the family was going through.

"It's so hard on the families and it's a 24/7 thing to get tied up with. We had plenty of wood there, so we decided to fire it on the trailer and bring it around."

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