Whanganui people are invited to get involved in a community project to assist children affected by trauma.
4thekidz Charitable Trust, chaired by Carolyn Cragg, provides comfort packs for children in traumatic situations and is set to relaunch its Whanganui branch.
"We wanted to start a branch in Whanganui some years ago but, while there was a lot of interest in being involved, no one was able to make a commitment to co-ordinate it," Ms Cragg said.
"We now have a local co-ordinator who wants to step up and we are looking for other people who would like to be part of it."
The 4thekidz project started five years ago, initially with a teddy bear provided to children who were going through the forensic process of investigation of abuse. Since then it has grown to comfort packs that include a blanket (for the child to feel secure), a teddy (to cuddle or talk to), a torch (so they are not scared of the dark) and a colouring book or diary (to express their feelings in colour or words).
The packs now go to children dealing with many types of trauma, such as those affected by suicide, murder or fatal accidents. The organisation sent 130 packs to children affected by this year's Edgecumbe floods and flew 190 packs by helicopter to those impacted by the Kaikoura earthquake.
"Where our packages go to the police, it's up to them how they are allocated," Ms Cragg said.
"It took three years to get permission to run the project through the police and it has been highly successful. One of our goals is to get teddy bears in every police car in New Zealand. In South Taranaki and Hawera, police cars have been issued with a bag containing four teddies. Some people think it sounds silly but, even in a minor incident, it can help children at the scene if they have a teddy to cuddle."
The organisation has no funding so everything is community driven and relies on volunteers and donations.
"There isn't one person more important than any other in what we do," Ms Cragg said.
"We have quilters and knitters, toymakers, children who gift us their birthday presents, people who donate wool and fabric. We are a child abuse awareness group as well. We're not social workers but we can put people in touch with the right organisations to help them."
The organisation has distributed 2700 packs, with an average value of $60, throughout New Zealand this year.
Whanganui 4thekidz will hold a presentation later this month to introduce the community to the project, with Ms Cragg one of the speakers. The presentation will be at 7pm on Tuesday, November 28, in the Red Lion Inn function room.
People who would like to know more about the project can email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message via the Whanganui Tedz4thekidz Facebook page.