Sue Wiseman knows a thing or two about putting together a parcel.

And, through 14 years volunteering at Tauranga Community Foodbank, Wiseman also knows plenty about human kindness.

The retired Tauranga woman is well known on the city's volunteer scene, having also helped with New Zealand Red Cross and Rape Crisis Centre.

"I've always done volunteering, for as long as I can remember," Wiseman said.


But it was the Tauranga foodbank service where Wiseman has held the longest tenure.

There was something "totally different" at the foodbank, she said.

"You are kept busy the whole time and you meet some amazing people. Our volunteers here are all really lovely, most of us are quite old."

Wiseman said her children had left home and had their own families so she had plenty of time to offer, and no day was the same.

"There is lots of variety which I really enjoy," she said.

"It's just a good feeling to be helping people. It gets quite emotional sometimes. Some people are embarrassed and don't want to be here. You have to make the effort to make them feel welcome, knowing they're no different from anyone else."

Wiseman said she did not know how many of the foodbank's clients would manage without the service.

"We've had people living in their cars. One woman went to put her food parcel in her car but she had all [her possessions] in there too.


"I just can't imagine how tough it must be for some people.

"I feel really sad for them I wish we could do more."

Like all foodbank volunteers, Wiseman works one day a week. However, she has her name down for extra days to help when needed. Now retired, Wiseman spends what time she doesn't give to volunteer work to gardening and walking.

For Wiseman, helping others is her own personal - and very rewarding - mission.

"I'm lucky myself, in my own life. I have a lovely husband, lovely grandchildren. If I can make someone else's day happier, it's the least I can do."

Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said Wiseman was "an absolute treasure".


"[She is] so kind to our customers and always putting her hand up to do extra shifts at foodbank," she said.

"Sue has the best sense of humour and surprises me often with some sassy joke or comment."

Christmas Appeal

So far the Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal has helped raise $61,918.35 for the Tauranga Community Foodbank, and a total of 22,586 food items, as of 9am Tuesday. The last day people can make Christmas donations to the foodbank is Friday. If you would like to help the foodbank in any way please get in contact with the foodbank on Brook St or the Bay of Plenty Times on Cameron Rd, Tauranga.

How you can help.
How you can help.