Whangārei families have been brought to tears after receiving blankets donated by St John Ambulance Whangārei as part of the Give a Kid a Blanket campaign.
Nancy Greenfield, a member of the St John Area Committee and the Whangārei St John Hospitaller Club, said the winter initiative was started in Auckland by artists Bernie Harfleet and Donna Turtle Sarten who in 2015 decided to collect blankets and distribute them to those in need.
St John Northern Region decided to get involved, and Greenfield said the Whangārei St John Hospitaller Club got wind of the idea and jumped on board by collecting blankets which they are donating to Oranga Tamariki families.
"We thought it was a brilliant idea of giving children and families at need a nice warm blanket for the winter. Consequently the aim was to ensure, not just the children, but families at need had something warm to keep them comfortable."
So last year they started looking at where they could source blankets from and thanks to Arthurs Emporium in Whangārei they were able to get about 250 thick fleece blankets at a good cost.
She said the word was put out to St John Area Committee members, and friends of members, and as a result they have received donations of cot-sized patchwork blankets, materials so members could make blankets, knitted blankets and crocheted blankets.
Overall they have just under 300 blankets.
"I was absolutely blown away by the support we got," Greenfield said.
"You can just imagine some of the families loving not just the warmth, but the colour and vibrancy of these blankets."
Whangārei Oranga Tamariki social worker Nicole, who did not want her last name used, said social workers were "blown away".
"The blankets have been gifted to people who need them most and they have been so graciously received.
"There are kids who have been over the moon to be able to choose a blanket and call it their own.
"We've had families brought to tears knowing that people have considered them and their wellbeing and want to help," she said.
It is the first time St John Ambulance Whangārei have taken part in the initiative but Greenfield hoped to keep it going and next year include other items to keep families warm - like little hats, pyjamas, and knitted jerseys.
If anyone would like to donate to the initiative they can contact Greenfield on 09 438 2409 or they can drop blankets to the reception of St John Ambulance Whangārei on Western Hills Drive.