Tauranga Boys' College has outdone itself and all other schools, donating a record 8184 items to the foodbank.

It is just one of many generous contributions to this year's Tauranga Community Foodbank Schools Appeal, which has so far collected 20,532 food and grocery items.

Tauranga Boys' record haul was organised and collected by the school's learning needs department.

The students counted the items, sorted and stacked boxes, and shopped for bargains with donated cash.


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Stephen Ajamian, 14, led from the front.

"I think it's been great," he said. "I just wanted to help the community. It helps those that are really having a hard time."

Asked if he thought the rest of the city should follow suit, the Year 9 student said: "If they could, it would be great. But I know not everyone can because they're the ... people that need help."

Before the Schools Appeal starts each year, staff and students from Tauranga Boys' learning needs department visit the foodbank to get an understanding of the work the organisation does.

Teacher Denise Fahey said it is an excellent learning opportunity for them.

"I think it's about being a good man and the good man thing is big at Tauranga Boys' College. It's about being generous and thinking about other people.

"And they also get experiences of being out, being involved in and being part of their community, which I think is really good too."

She said the school's house leaders and prefects also visit the foodbank and get involved in the appeal, which is also run as a house competition.

"Without making generalisations, most of those boys come from homes where they just go home, and they open the pantry, and they open the fridge, and they eat whatever they want. They inhale food.

"Those boys are our school leaders today; they will be the leaders in the community in 20 years' time. They will run businesses and ... I figure if they learn now, they will – when it's their turn – look after their community."

Some are already going above and beyond.

Three of the prefects, during their visit to the foodbank, saw there were only three toothbrushes on the personal care shelf and so went away and spent their own money on more.

"They said we don't care about the house points, about the competition, we want to be sure that the people who come see Nicki today and tomorrow get a toothbrush," Fahey said.

Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said the boys' gesture was "amazing".

One of those prefects was Adam Hitchiner.

"I just never thought that there was this great a need in our own community," the 17-year-old said.

"I've lived in Tauranga my whole life, and I just didn't think there was this great an issue."

The Year 13 student said his visit to the foodbank inspired him to contribute. He also went back to school and spoke at the principal's assembly.

"And just tried to raise awareness as much as we could and inspire the boys to give back and help out.

"It feels really good ... that we could help bring some stuff that they otherwise wouldn't have had, especially like the toiletries. So that was awesome."

Goodwin said the Schools Appeal allows her organisation to plan and budget, "so we know what we have to spend over the coming months; it's priceless".

She said the appeal was spread out over a more extended period this year and about 30 schools are involved.