Today is Daffodil Day and across Waikato and the Bay of Plenty regions there will be more than 1400 volunteers joining fundraising efforts to give help and hope to those facing cancer in local communities.
This year's Daffodil Day theme is Change for Better, recognising that every dollar donated to the Cancer Society helps make hard times a little better for the one in three Kiwis affected by cancer, their whānau and friends.
"By donating your spare change — and more — you help to make a direct and positive difference in the life of someone facing a cancer diagnosis," says fundraising manager for Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society Catriona Findlay.
As the Cancer Society's biggest annual appeal, Daffodil Day donations are vital to providing a wide range of supportive care services for people with cancer and their loved ones all around the region.
"Every day the Cancer Society helps New Zealanders through the emotional, physical and practical challenges a cancer diagnosis brings," says Shelley Campbell, chief executive of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society.
In the last year alone, Cancer Society supportive care nurses in Waikato/Bay of Plenty reached out to people needing support or assistance on 8795 occasions.
The Cancer Society's Lions Lodge in Hamilton provided 10,521 nights' accommodation to guests who needed to travel long distances to receive treatment at Waikato Hospital and volunteer drivers travelled 119,245km to help people to and from treatment.
"Our services are open to anyone facing any type of cancer. And we are available every step of the way — from answering that first question, to offering really practical tools and assistance.
"Providing meaningful support and resources comes at a cost though, and we want to show people who may not have engaged with us personally just how far their generous donations can go."
Ms Campbell says that is why the Cancer Society's supportive care services are at the heart of this year's Daffodil Day campaign, which is also fronted by some of the very staff and volunteers that provide these essential local services.
She says donations can also help build a better future for the increasing numbers of New Zealanders predicted to be diagnosed with cancer in the coming years.
"Cancer is the number one cause of death in New Zealand, and the number of people diagnosed with cancer is predicted to increase by 50 per cent in the next 15 years."
"With one in three of us affected by cancer, Daffodil Day is an important day for New Zealanders to come together. For some of us it is a day of remembrance, for others a day of hope.
"But most importantly, it is an opportunity for us all to contribute to making things better for people facing cancer in our community – now and in the future."
ANZ has been a major sponsor of the Cancer Society since 1990 and the principal sponsor of Daffodil Day.
Since then ANZ staff have organised bake sales, quiz nights, and raffles and together have fundraised almost $20 million to support Daffodil Day.
This year Kiwis can buy an ANZ Smart Daffodil from any ANZ branch and donate using a special QR code.
Donations can be made at www.daffodilday.org.nz, at any ANZ branch or during the street appeal on Friday August 30.