Christmas carols played by Monrad Intermediate's Just Brass at the Salvation Army's Wishing Tree Appeal in Kmart heralded Christmas.

The Army's Stu Lee spoke to the public shopping in the store. The Salvation Army has partnered with Kmart and the Wishing Tree Appeal for 26 years.

"Thanks to Kmart's amazing support more than 550,00 gifts have been generously donated by New Zealanders since the appeal began.

"This year we expect to help more than 17,000 families over the Christmas period with gifts, food and other support."

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Lee said the donations of gifts provided significant financial and stress relief for families, which allowed them to refocus their limited budgets on meeting other Christmas, holiday and back to school costs.

Funds were also collected through the WTA and used to purchase gifts for age groups that
were not provided for in the gift-giving.

The Wishing Tree Appeal opened today and runs through to December 24.