For the past six years Christine Hands has been collecting donations for what is now the Rotorua Daily Post Christmas Appeal.

"Even before you guys [Rotorua Daily Post] got involved," she said with a twinkle in her eye.

Collecting out of the Ngongotahā Medical Centre, Hands said she was a little late in getting her appeal boxes out this year but they were filling fast.

"I have a box for non-perishable items and a box for toys for kiddies.

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"There's been a few Ngongotahā stores asking if I'm doing a collection this year. They tell me they want to give their donations to me which is a little funny considering most of the collections are all going to the same place."

Hands said the appeal was important because there was a greater need in the community.

"I think even in the past 12 months there has been change. There are more homeless people, more families in need and more children going without.

Christine Hands is a regular Christmas appeal contributor. Photo / Ben Fraser
Christine Hands is a regular Christmas appeal contributor. Photo / Ben Fraser

"I believe every New Zealand child deserves to have a gift to open on Christmas Day. Even if it's just so they can say they got something when they return to school and are asked what they got for Christmas from friends."

The Rotorua Daily Post Christmas Appeal is tracking well, according to Rotorua Salvation Army corps officer Kylie Overbye.

She is at a loss to explain the overwhelming support received by the community for this year's Fill the Bus and appeal.

"When Fill the Bus was taking place our hall was full. We had so many community groups and organisations, including a fitness club, lining up to help.

"The atmosphere, although a little chaotic at times, was great. It was a fun night."

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Overbye said one lady had brought her daughter along to help simply because she wanted her to experience giving back. Another gentleman brought in a jar of notes and coins he had been collecting throughout the year that totalled about $500.

"I can't explain why we had so many more people than in previous years but my personal opinion is that things are getting harder for some, and people are more aware of it.

"I would like to think there is greater awareness of the fact we are stronger as a community than as individuals and if one person is hurting we all hurt."

She said the additional awareness and help allowed the Salvation Army to look at the next level of need.

"We can assess where we can best be utilised to bring about change in the community."

Overbye said non-perishable donations for this Christmas were tracking along nicely but she had noticed there were not as many presents for children as previously.

"This isn't such a big deal as we do have monetary donations to buy some if we have to. It's more just an observation."'