It is almost time to "Fill the Bus", Tauranga.

On Tuesday – December 12 – the Bay of Plenty Times and The Hits radio station will be travelling around the city in a Bayhopper bus collecting donations from businesses and members of the public for the Tauranga Community Foodbank.

It will be covered live, and there is a $500 food and beverage voucher from CBK - Craft Bar and Kitchen to award.

Read more: Christmas Appeal for foodbank rises above $32,000
Christmas Appeal 2017: Businesses, it's time to 'Fill the Bus'
Christmas Appeal 2017: The foodbank's happy horde of helpers


The Hits radio station host Will Johnston will be on board the bus helping.

"What's really surprised me is that there are a bunch of businesses and organisations in Tauranga that aren't necessarily those massive corporates, that work super hard every year to make ends meet and keep people employed and they are the ones that have been coming out of the woodwork having banded together and organised a bunch of food from their staff to give to the foodbank," Johnston said.

"In saying that we've been contacted by some pretty high-flying companies in the Bay who are going to be the cool kids down the back of the bus, by filling the back seats entirely at least."

He said it was not too late to donate.

"We'll take food right up to and even on the day."

Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said "Fill the Bus" was an exciting initiative.

"Having The Hits involved should generate a buzz around Tauranga. Our van will also be following along, and some foodbank trustees will also be on the bus so if you are donating feel free to ask questions about foodbank to find out just how important your donations are."

One of the stops on Tuesday's route will be at the Opteon office on Willow St in central Tauranga.

The property valuation and advisory company has been collecting food and other grocery items for the foodbank over the past few weeks.

Yvonne Sheppard has been running the appeal effort. She put up notices and a Christmas tree in the office and discussed it during a team meeting.

"Everyone was keen to participate and instantly came forth and started donating.

"We've had an awesome response; everyone was keen to make someone's day special during Christmas. We hated the thought that families will run short or be without altogether, especially for the sake of the children. Christmas should be a special memory for everyone in some form, and we all were very happy to be part of this in some way."

OPTEON STAFF: From left, Mark Grinlintion, Yvonne Sheppard and Russell Oliver. Photo/John Borren
OPTEON STAFF: From left, Mark Grinlintion, Yvonne Sheppard and Russell Oliver. Photo/John Borren

Sheppard said every year the company does a donation drive for a given charity.

"I think Opteon chose the right charity to support this year as never has hardship been so obvious – the homeless living on the CBD streets which we walk past every day.

"We are hoping our small contribution will bring some cheer, light and hope at Christmas, plus it makes our Christmas time more special knowing that we may have brought a tiny bit of happiness to others in our community."

Opteon has more than 800 employees in 77 offices across New Zealand and Australia, and the local Tauranga office has 12 staff members.

It is those 12 people and their families who are contributing to the Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal and the Opteon head office has also put in a donation, which was used to buy more food items.

"We are very aware of how hard it is for families all year round let alone with the added pressure of Christmas," Sheppard said.

"In a previous job, I was involved with less privileged families and saw first-hand how hard it was for families and was often quite heartbroken for the children."

She said being a part of the "Fill the Bus" day had encouraged the Opteon office to be involved even more in the appeal.

"It feels like a real community effort – Tauranga all pulling together."

Opteon staff are also donating food and bedding for the SPCA this year.

Appeal Update:

The Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal total now stands at $46,103.60.

So far there have been 8993 food items (valued at $2 each) and $28,117.60 cash donated to the foodbank.