Foster Hope Northlanders are a generous bunch, according to Debbie Sutcliffe.

The Northern Advocate office has been swamped with donations from readers which include pyjamas, toys and lovingly knitted booties and baby clothes for the charity Foster Hope, which she co-ordinates in Northland.

"They're amazing. I am overwhelmed by the response. It's been phenomenal," she said.

Foster Hope distributes backpacks to Child, Youth and Family, or caregivers directly, to give to foster children.


The backpacks contain items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, clothes, face cloths and cuddly toys - and in winter - pyjamas.

"Many of these children arrive with only the clothes on their backs so we try and bring a little joy to them by a few little items they can call their own," Ms Sutcliffe said.

"And at this time of the year when the nights are drawing in and fires are starting to be lit there is nothing cosier than a lovely warm pair of pyjamas to snuggle up in."

The drive was launched in April, with Foster Hope Northland's aim being to give 200 pairs of pyjamas to children in Northland in foster care, she said.

So far she's completed 50 backpacks and recently distributed them to families in Kaitaia, Kaikohe and Whangarei.

She estimates the items donated to the Northern Advocate office alone could make up another 20 to 30 backpacks.

Sorting the goods and organising them into backpacks looks set to be a mammoth task, she said.

"My house looks like a junk shop, but in the nicest possible way."

She has also had a number of text messages letting her know that people were having a clear out.

The drive is an ongoing thing, she said, and the charity is still accepting donations of pyjamas, new or second-hand - "we call that 'gently used"' - for children from zero to 17 years old.

While the drive is primarily for pyjamas, she's also accepting donations of other items for the backpacks.

Drop your donations into the Northern Advocate office, 88 Robert St, Whangarei, or contact Debbie Sutcliffe on 021 450 805.