Community projects had some extra helping hands on Wednesday as local BNZ staff spent the day volunteering.

All BNZ stores were Closed for Good as more than 3000 staff went out into their local communities to work on more than 550 projects.

BNZ Rotorua staff Stephen Rowe and Anne McKeown spent the day helping other volunteers out with the vegetable gardens at the Rotorua Youth Centre.

Other BNZ staff in Rotorua were helping out in the community by preparing for the new season chicks with National Kiwi Trust, landscaping at Age Concern Rotorua and helping with general maintenance at Rotorua SPCA.

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Stephen says for Closed for Good generally everything is closed for business, and they get given two volunteer days per year as part of their leave plan to go out and help the community.

He says the gardens they were working on support other community organisations as well, so their volunteering was ultimately providing support to four or five organisations.

"At the end of the day we are trying to spread good will across as many places as possible."

Work for the day included filling up garden boxes, planting garden boxes and weeding the overgrown ones.

Stephen says it is nice to be working outdoors for a change, as they are usually office bound.

"The fact we get two days a year is really generous, it's paid time out of the office.

"It's really fantastic we are given the opportunity to give something back in work time."

Anne McKeown says she used to do a lot of gardening and it is nice to give back to the community.

Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea, volunteer facilitator for Kai Rotorua at Rotorua Youth Centre, says it is fantastic to have BNZ coming on board with Closed for Good.

He says they will encourage staff from the bank to come back and look at what work their colleagues had done and encourage them to take vegetables home.

Te Rangikaheke says some of the community groups who use their gardens are the Salvation Army, Love Soup Rotorua, Red Cross, and the Ohinemutu Maori Women's Health League.

The vegetable gardens also get used by the Rotorua Youth Centre kitchen and members of the community.

He says it is great to be able to share with people the importance of growing our own vegetables - "that's a very important message to be getting out".

Mitre 10 has also given them all the plants for this programme.

He says it is always difficult to do projects like this and they appreciate help received from local businesses.

Kai Rotorua will be launched properly next month.