Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Little girl proves she has the biggest heart

A West Auckland 9-year-old has donated more than $1500 in birthday money to St John Ambulance.

Louise Naylor has given the service her birthday money every year since she was 6. Last month she celebrated her 9th birthday and turned over her biggest donation yet - $510.

St John Waitakere Territory manager Andrew Everiss said he was not aware of a more generous donor of her age.

Louise, a year four pupil at Tirimoana School, decided to help after watching TV shows about emergency services, including the work of St John officers.

"Sometimes it made me feel sad that people got hurt and they could die. Mum said 'do you want to donate to St John?' I had a little think about it and then I decided to do it.

"I don't think presents are important to me because I already have too much.

I thought this would make other people happy. I feel proud of myself, that I've done something that helps other people and I just want to keep doing it."

Mr Everiss said Louise's donations went towards the operation of the service, so they were helping to save lives in her community. It cost about $200,000 to get a fully equipped ambulance on the road.

"Every little bit helps and $1500 is a significant amount. It's fantastic."

St John spokesman Robbie Walker said the Government funds about 70 per cent of St John's costs, which mostly covers wages, through contracts with the Ministry of Health, ACC and district health boards.

This leaves the organisation short of money for ambulances, station upkeep and equipment, such as stretchers, first responder kits and defibrillators.

Stretchers cost about $13,000 each, and first responder kits $3500.

The shortfall is made up from payment of part charges, community donations, revenue from commercial activities and fundraising.

The organisation raised $31.7 million through fundraising in the 2014/15 financial year, almost half of which came from individual donations, he said.

- NZ Herald

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