You did it Tauranga!
A record-breaking $148,255.35 has been raised as part of this year's Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal, which officially closes today . The huge amount surpasses last year's total of $128,700.00 - the largest amount raised for the foodbank since the appeal began in 2011.
As of midday yesterday, $85,943.35 in cash was raised and 31,156 food items donated, with each food item priced at $2 each. However, more money and food were still coming through the foodbank's doors yesterday afternoon and were yet to be counted.
Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said she was overwhelmed, and "super excited", at the generosity. "I just can't believe it."
Goodwin said the past week at the foodbank had been especially busy with an average of 2000 cans being donated a day.
"With the food items, there's so much extra that we can now put in parcels for someone that we couldn't afford normally. It's a total win-win. The people that are going to benefit from this are the people who need it the most."
Goodwin said the financial donations were also a blessing and allowed the foodbank team flexibility to improve things while still covering standard bills.
"We've also got a few increased costs which have been a concern, but all I can say is our service is going to be here good and strong for the months and years to come due to the community support," Goodwin said.
"We have food - we are not turning people away. It's due to this appeal and the generosity of the people out there."
The sheer demand of the past week has meant the foodbank has called on volunteer reinforcements.
On Wednesday, the foodbank team had already packed and handed out 44 parcels that morning, and prepared another 20-plus for Thursday morning. The office whiteboard for parcel recipients was already filled with names and two A4 sheets, also filled with names, were taped to the bottom.
Foodbank warehouse manager Brendon Collins said seeing the donations flowing in through the doors was incredible.
"When I stand up on the mezzanine floor and look down it really is amazing. I haven't seen anything like that before but, in saying that, we will need every single item."
The Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal for the Tauranga Community Foodbank has raised more than $694,700 since it formally began eight years ago.
"You wonder 'How are you going to do this year', but it just keeps blowing us away," Collins said.
NZME Bay of Plenty regional editor Scott Inglis said he was stunned at the community response to the Christmas appeal.
"We do this because we think the foodbank deserves all the help it can get, and our readers and the wider community have once again backed the cause with staggering generosity."
The foodbank is now closed until January 3 at 9.30am.
Foodbank work 'my happy place'
For volunteer and trustee Sue van Os , the demand thrust on the foodbank at Christmas was not a surprise, "but the one thing that surprises me is how generous people are".
"One guy who was picking up a parcel rang the doorbell (to let the foodbank team know he was there) ... and as he was leaving he rang the doorbell again just to say thank you.
"There are people who give us stuff, but there are also people who are receiving who are really grateful.
"It's a beautiful circle."
Van Os has been part of the foodbank family for six years and has seen the increase in people needing help each year.
"I would love for there not to be a need for a foodbank, but that's not going to happen," she said.
Van Os said seeing the goodwill of people from all walks of life made all of her efforts over the years worth it, and "every year it just gets better and better".
"I love the community we live in."
Van Os says she could see how effective and how well run the foodbank is, and she is proud to be part of it.
"This is my happy place. The people here are lovely. You can have a joke. It's a nice place. It's also incredibly worthwhile."
Van Os said it was easy to think that Tauranga had become impersonal because it was becoming a large city, "but it's not".
"We have a really great, great community of people," she said.