Bay of Plenty general practices are sharing around the Christmas treats this year by donating money to the Tauranga Community Foodbank instead of receiving gifts themselves.
The Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation is donating $1350 to the foodbank instead of gifts to 27 general practices in Tauranga.
This comes as $35,408.09 in cash and 9006 food items were donated to the Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal, in partnership with Gilmours Wholesale Food and Beverage Tauriko.
Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation chief executive, Lindsey Webber, said the management team was brainstorming gift ideas for general practices staff when the idea popped up.
"[We] decided we'd avoid sweet treats since so many of them already receive yummy baking and Christmas cakes from grateful patients. Gift baskets of fruit were also considered – we are a health organisation after all."
Webber said the team decided that most practices would know families who did not necessarily find Christmas a special time of the year, especially when they could not afford to put food on the table.
"We thought a collective gift from our primary health organisation whānau to theirs will help make Christmas a little brighter for those in need."
Webber said the foodbank did an "amazing job" at helping families in need.
"It's really important that families eat well to stay healthy. Going without food can create all sorts of health issues and we want everyone in our communities to enjoy good health and wellbeing," she said.
"We all tend to overindulge at Christmas – both at our own Christmas functions and in the treats we are gifted by the people and organisations we work with throughout the year. It's heart-warming to know that by paying it forward, deserving families will get some of those treats on their table instead."
Webber said the management team had received a flood of positive feedback from staff about the initiative.
"Supporting the Foodbank is very much in the spirit of Christmas," she said.
"Receiving yet another Christmas cake or fruit basket may not make much difference to practice teams, but the donation will make a world of difference to the whānau they see in their clinics every day."
Tauranga Community Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said the donation was a "pleasant surprise".
"Thank you so much to all the practices who chose to allow the primary health organisations to make this donation to us in lieu of them receiving a Christmas gift," she said.