Some 15,000 Tauranga adults and children have been given a helping hand this year from the Tauranga Community Foodbank .
It is that time of year again, when the Bay of Plenty Times and the Tauranga Community Foodbank ask the people of Tauranga to dig deep into their pantries and pockets to support the Christmas Appeal, which last year raised more than $107,000.
The Bay of Plenty Times has launched the appeal with a $1000 donation.
Tauranga people, businesses, schools and other organisations are invited to help donate food or money for the cause.
From today until December 23, the paper, with the support of The Hits, will be seeking donations to help the foodbank continue its good work throughout the Christmas period and into next year. There will be door-to-door can drives in some areas.
From January to October, 6177 adults and 8931 children were fed by the Tauranga Community Foodbank from just under 5000 food parcels.
Food parcels are a lifeline for the people of the community who are struggling - no matter what the reason is or the situation they are in.
Chairman Alan Plunkett emphasises that the foodbank is not a place of judgment.
But he does point out that the foodbank is a community service that offers struggling people a hand up, not a hand-out.
To get a parcel, clients must be referred to the foodbank by a social agency.
"There are only three referrals per annum allowed. Thereafter, they must be seen to be under a budget adviser.
"But we won't send anyone away without food. Nicki (Goodwin, foodbank manager) will give them something to tide them over and send them to a referral agency."
Most people sought help because of an illness or loss of employment, although the foodbank also helped in other instances, such as referrals from the Cancer Society and Plunket. There were also members of the community who would help in smaller, but no less appreciated, ways by bringing in surplus fruit and vegetables from their gardens.
While the foodbank thrived on donations of food, it also needed $1000 a week to buy other staple food items.
And with the service's move to new premises on Brook St, the foodbank will need to find cash to pay commercial rent, albeit at a discounted rate, for the first 12 months.
Mr Plunkett said Tauranga City Council was a wonderful landlord, helping complete the move from Dive Cres within a week. The new building was great - aside from the heat.
"We're going to cook in here so if anyone would like to give us a hand, we have a real need for some commercial fans."
The foodbank has more than 50 volunteers. "Nicki is the only paid staff member, funded by the Lotteries Commission and other grants, the others are all volunteers," Mr Plunkett said. "The work the volunteers do is mundane, but they all like each other's company."
Manager Nicki Goodwin said numbers-wise, this year was tracking similar to last year, although there were increasing numbers of people who had just moved to the city requesting help from the foodbank.
"I have noticed a lot of people moving here that have no jobs and move up having nowhere to live. So what does that say about where they've moved from?
"The fact is, we've been here 24 years with no decrease in need.
"There is no niche. It doesn't matter about someone's background to get assistance from us, whether age, family situation or employment."
She said foodbank worked with more than 50 local social agencies.
"In our name, we are the Tauranga Community Foodbank. We work with the 50-plus other community agencies.
"Often, the need is identified by an agency because they are already working with them for a reason."
Editor Scott Inglis said the foodbank did a wonderful job in the community.
"We're delighted to be helping the Tauranga foodbank again and are asking the community to help us raise food and donations to help those people in need."