The old saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, and it has taken an army of volunteers and donors to make sure 6000 tamariki and 600 families living in poverty in South Auckland will have a Merry Christmas.
Community advocate Dave Letele and the Middlemore Foundation are in the final stages of pulling together thousands of presents and hundreds of boxes of kai so the South Auckland families - the majority Māori and Pasifika - and their tamariki can enjoy the festivities like most Kiwis.
More than 500 donors have enabled the organisers to provide 600 food packs, worth $200 each, and wrap $30,000 worth of toys. Around 400 people donated a decoration on the virtual Kidz First Christmas tree, while companies and private donors gave gifts, money and food directly.
Letele admitted two weeks ago he was freaking out with the sheer logistics of the project.
But Letele and the Middlemore Foundation knew that the more effort put in by the hundreds of volunteers, the more joy it would bring to the thousands of tamariki and their families.
“I have to admit, when I looked at what we wanted to achieve, it was a bit daunting,” Letele told the Herald.
“But now we are doing it, we are starting to see results.”
To pack the presents, a process that started last week and will be finished on Wednesday, required a team of 115. Nurses have been driving van-loads of presents from the Warehouse Manukau - who have given a staggering 20 per cent discount on gifts bought.
Online donations were initially slow but have picked up over the past two weeks to ensure the target of 6000 presents for children and 600 whānau kai packs will be met.
The kai packs include ham (600 donated by Farmlands), sausages (700 trays donated by Beard Brothers), and pork donated from the Mad Butcher, while the Freemasons have decorated all the Kidz First wards, and thousands of dollars in donations have come from big corporates and average Kiwis who want the kids to be happy over Christmas.
Middlemore Foundation CEO Margie Mellsop thanked the South Auckland business organisations who have supported this cause, and also the many mums and dads who donated online.
“It has been a big effort for everyone and could not have been done without the community and businesses in South Auckland plus the online donors,” Mellsop said.
“We are so, so grateful that these donors and volunteers have reached deep to support these whānau. They will make a real difference to the sick and disabled kids in our South Auckland community.
“When I asked the Kidz First team what they wanted to do for their patients this year, they jokingly said they wanted every one of their 600 children living with long-term health conditions in the community to get presents and a Christmas food parcel. Little did they know I liked the challenge, and I knew Dave would too - and here we are!”
Letele and the Mellsop wanted to especially acknowledge Farmlands, Trade Me, Zuru, Nigel and Liz Wood, Mānuka Doctor, Emma-Jane’s Foodservice, Pak‘nSave Māngere, Pak’nSave Manukau, Tile Depot, Whakatupu Aotearoa, Mike Milligan and AIS Global Group, Consilium, Mad Butcher, Alchemy Agencies, Trust Motors, Tony Davison, GJ Gardner, Static Communicate, Fisher & Paykel, Ko Awatea, Howick’s the Click Facebook group, Business East Tamaki, Auckland Rotary clubs, Tilly and Evie Arasaratnam, OfficeMax, Leonards Smallgoods ,Health Alliance, Planet Fun and the Freemasons.
If you want to donate, there’s still time. Go to https://www.kidzfirstchristmas.org.nz.