Christian Florian has the Salvation Army in Whangārei to thank this winter for helping keep his young family warm day and night.

His family are among those struggling to find suitable rental accommodation and in turn, paying their winter power bill, which normally spikes at this time of the year.

The Salvation Army in Whangārei gets one trailer-load of firewood every fortnight from an anonymous donor to be given to families struggling with their power bill.

Florian, his partner Marisilina Rankin and their two children, Barney McGoon, 3, and Jamila Florian, 3 months, have been living in a Salvation Army transitional house in Raumanga since January while looking for rental accommodation.

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"It gets really icy if we don't get the fireplace going day and night. We have to buy a cubic metre of firewood once a week at a cost of $120 and that's supplemented by six or seven boxes of wood from the Sallies," Florian said.

"The donated firewood gets shared with other families so we are happy to receive whatever is left. Fireplace heating is cheaper and effective. It doesn't affect your health like other heating methods such as gas heaters."

Salvation Army Whangārei property manager Michael Tau with donated firewood for Christian Florian's family. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Salvation Army Whangārei property manager Michael Tau with donated firewood for Christian Florian's family. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Salvation Army Whangārei community ministries team leader Marlene Bowers said the free firewood was not for people to get through the whole winter, but for a few days.

She said between 20 and 30 families benefit from a trailer-load of firewood.

"What this does is alleviates pressure where if they can't source firewood straight away, it means it gets them through until their next pay or benefit," Bowers said.

"The other form of support we provide is food parcels. When families get food parcels, they can then pay their power bills. We're at the beginning of winter and we already have families showing up saying their power bill has gone up."

The Salvation Army in Whangārei helps between 100 and 130 families a week with food parcels, budget advice, transitional housing and other services.

Bowers said the demand for food parcels was up 20 per cent in winter and that her volunteers were giving more high-cost items like fruit and vegetables.

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The army is also distributing warm blankets to schools, rough sleepers and families in Whangārei.

About 120,000 people are assisted by Salvation Army throughout the country to meet basic needs such as food and temporary housing.