As has been so wonderfully proven over more than 30 Christmases, there is a lot of generosity and warm festive spirit out there across Hawke's Bay.

There are so many people keen and happy to ensure that those less fortunate in the community get to enjoy the season of Christmas with some fine food and great gifts.

The annual Christmas Cheer Appeal has sparked into life today and those who so passionately drive it are hopeful it will again bring joy and smiles to the faces of those who otherwise would not be able to enjoy this special time of the year so much.

More than 3000 people will benefit from the appeal which started on a very modest scale more than 30 years ago as a community-aiding campaign by the former Daily Telegraph newspaper.


It grew, and grew and grew and when Hawke's Bay Today emerged in 1999 it continued the tradition and stepped in behind the appeal which was also picked up by social agencies in the community.

The appeal also gained support from great teams of volunteers who put in the time to sort and pack the many parcels that get distributed to families and individuals in need by the many support agencies who have worked with them and placed them on the list for help.

That equates to about 500 parcels for Napier families and about the same number in Hastings, and the response has traditionally been great smiles and tears of joy and gratitude.

The appeal is steered in Hastings by Jo Reyngoud and this will be her eighth stint, while Helene Overend will be involved in her second appeal for the Napier side.

Overend was delighted to come across mums and dads who would take their youngsters with them to one of the drop-off points, explaining to them that their donation would bring happiness to a less fortunate member of the community out there.

"We've had a great start and have already made our first pick-up of gifts," she said, adding that the Havelock North Rotary Club had also been in touch and were staging a special appeal-support evening where gifts for children will be collected.

And as she put it "McCain you've done it again" with the company donating about 120kg of product.

There had also been early support for the Napier cheer crew with Arataki Honey donating 500 punnets of honey for the food and gift packs.


Overend was thrilled at how the community embraced the annual appeal and remembered last year seeing an elderly man, who appeared in need of assistance himself, walking up to one of the drop-off points and laying down $10, saying "this is to help the children".

She and Reyngoud were working with many social and health agencies including Aged Concern, Birthright, Family Centre and the Cancer Society.

And both had devoted teams of volunteers who every year stepped up to collect, sort and package the hundreds of parcels.

The mayors of both cities also stopped by to do their packing bit.

Gifts for all ages are sought, and always great for the family parcels are sporting and leisure items which the whole family could get out and have fun with.

Toys and books and general giftware ... all the things that can bring on the smiles on Christmas Day.

And the valuable cash raised goes to buying the huge amount of food goodies to fill the parcels.

Last year's appeal saw about $12,500 raised and the cheer crew are hopeful this year's appeal will echo that.

The 2018 Christmas Cheer Appeal will run through until December 19.



Hawke's Bay Today

and The Hits at NZME House, Dickens St; Toyworld; Paper Plus Taradale; Alexander Construction; Mitre 10.

Hastings: Hawke's Bay Today; Hastings Public Library; Havelock North Public Library; Flaxmere Public Library.