As the cold winter nights darken, some children are tucked gently into their warm beds by their mothers and fathers while others are going to sleep with barely a blanket.

There are nearly 30 vulnerable Bay of Plenty children on Variety the Children's Charity's emergency waiting list for vital winter essentials, and more than 400 families nationwide.

With more and more calls for help, Variety has today launched its first Warm Hearts Winter Appeal, which provides winter essentials to families in desperate need.

The Warm Hearts Winter Appeal will provide beds, warm bedding and winter clothing, as well as help to pay medical costs for disadvantaged Kiwi kids on Variety's emergency list.

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Variety's chief executive officer Lorraine Taylor said the charity had never seen such an influx for winter essentials, particularly for beds and bedding.

"From a lack of warm clothing and covered-in shoes, beds and warm bedding, to having to live in houses that are cold and damp and not being able to afford a doctor's visit or prescription costs, the struggles disadvantaged children face during winter are, sadly, not few and far between," Taylor said.

"They are copious, and they are dangerous."

Taylor said winter put an increased strain on families who were already struggling.

"We hear from families who sleep together in one room every night because body warmth is the only way they can keep warm," she said.

"We also hear from families whose children sleep on the floor, in chairs, on couches or in beds together because they simply cannot afford bedding."

The Variety Warm Hearts Winter Appeal runs from July 23 to August 12. To donate, visit www.variety.org.nz/winter

A TAURANGA FAMILY'S CALL FOR HELP

A Tauranga father-of-five who lost his partner a year ago has been gifted warm clothing and bedding to help his youngest children, who suffer from asthma, through the winter.

The father, who did not want to be named, was with his partner for 27 years before she took her life about a year ago.

The tragedy of losing their mother so suddenly shook the family.

"I don't know how to tell my two youngest children how she went," he said. "It has been a real hard time for all of us," the father said.

"They [the youngest] don't like to be alone now because they are afraid if they come back I won't be here."

The father began to struggle to take care of his two youngest children, aged 5 and 8, who suffer from asthma, and a teenager who was working part-time.

His youngest children's asthma was worsening as winter settled in and he struggled to afford much after quitting his job to take care of the children when their mother died.

His only income was the benefit.

"It was stressful at times but I just had to harden up and carry on. I can't let it get me down," he said.

The district health nurse where his youngest two children went to school suggested he contact Variety for help.

Hearing the father's story, Variety gifted the family $200 to spend at The Warehouse for warm clothing and bedding to help them get through the winter.

The Tauranga father said he was forever grateful Variety had come to the rescue.

"That was a huge relief ... It has made me a lot happier and more stress-free through these cold nights."

IF YOU NEED HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
Or if you need to talk to someone else:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666


HOW MANY NEED HELP?
- There were 27 Bay of Plenty children on Variety's wait list
- Variety has helped 160 new Bay children so far in 2018
- Variety helped 245 new Bay children in 2017
- There are currently 273 Bay children being sponsored through Variety's Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme

HOW TO HELP:
-$8 can buy four pairs of winter socks
-$15 can buy a wool beanie
-$16 can buy a polar fleece blanket
-$24 can buy flannelette pyjamas
-$25 can buy a pair of lace-up shoes
-$32 can buy a waterproof jacket
-$100 can provide help with doctor visits and healthcare costs
-$118 can provide a winter bedding pack for one child
-$237 can buy a child their own bed
-$525 can buy bunk beds for two siblings