Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Papamoa family flooded with offers of help

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GUTTED: Papamoa house fire survivors Kent Robinson and his partner Savanna Wichman and their children Tayla-Rose, 3, Winter, 2, Riley, 6, and 4-month-old Alistair. Photo/George Novak.
GUTTED: Papamoa house fire survivors Kent Robinson and his partner Savanna Wichman and their children Tayla-Rose, 3, Winter, 2, Riley, 6, and 4-month-old Alistair. Photo/George Novak.

Offers of help for a Papamoa family of seven who lost everything in a house fire have been pouring in and a local support centre has also been fielding numerous calls.

Papamoa Support Centre administrator Bronwyn Waters-Bright said the office was full of donations including linen, clothing, toys, and food.

"We have had to turn people away because we simply don't have the space. We're asking anyone wanting to donate bigger items, such as furniture and appliances to hold on to them for now until the family finds a permanent place to live," Ms Waters-Bright said.

The most pressing need for the family was food, and the centre was happy to receive any non-perishable items, she said. Its freezer had a small amount of space, but donated items should be stored in containers for safety reasons.

Ms Waters-Bright said people could also donate supermarket vouchers which would mean the family could buy fresh fruit and vegetables as they needed it.

The Dickson Rd home of Kent Robinson, his partner, Savanna Wichman, and their five children - Winter, 2, Tayla-Rose, 3, Riley, 6, Bella, 9, and 4-month-old Alistair - was badly damaged by fire on Sunday afternoon.

Fire investigator Jon Rewi said the fire was believed to have been started by a spark from a chisel-sharpening tool. The house would likely need to be rebuilt.

The Bay of Plenty Times also fielded several calls from people offering to donate beds, furniture and other items.

A Givealittle page set up to help the family had raised $6273 yesterday.

Ms Wichman's mother, Clare Jefferies, drove from Pokeno to Papamoa "in a daze" on Sunday after learning the rented house she once called home was on fire.

"I got into the car and just kept driving. I didn't know what I would find ... I didn't know until about 40 minutes before I arrived at the house that everyone was okay. It was a huge relief when I saw Kent standing there holding my grand-daughter," Mrs Jefferies said.

"I was devastated when I saw the house. It's been a huge loss for Ken and Savanna."

Mrs Jefferies said the family had been blown away by the fantastic offers of help, including from complete strangers. "I want to say a huge thank you to everyone for their generosity, love and support."

The Papamoa owners of a local daycare centre, who also made contact with the newspaper yesterday, had offered to provide free daycare for the youngest children in the family, including free pick-up and drop off.

How you can help
To drop off a donation to the Papamoa Support Centre call 07- 574 7170.

Or to make a cash donation click on Givealittle page

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