Whangārei residents are being asked to donate new children's books to Women's Refuge to provide a form of escapism for kids facing a tough Christmas.
Kiwi Christmas Books was a new initiative in Auckland last year by journalist and author Sonya Wilson. It encourages people to buy a new children's book, preferably by a New Zealand author or illustrator, which will support Kiwi creatives, publishers and booksellers, as well as kids in need.
After collecting more than 1600 books to give to children through Auckland City Mission and Auckland Women's Refuge, Wilson decided to take the idea nationwide this year.
"Books are such powerful things. They can teach empathy and critical-thinking, they can open up worlds to readers that would otherwise be closed. A story can be a launching pad for ideas, it can provide an escape, or just a laugh; it can give kids a chance to see the world through other peoples' eyes," she said.
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Mary de Ruyter picked up the volunteer role as Whangārei co-ordinator and said, while Duffy Books in Homes had generously donated 80 books to get the Whangārei branch started, she hoped locals could at least match that number.
"Or perhaps even push our total above 200. Every book will make a difference. It encourages people to support the local book industry while making life a little better for Whangārei kids having a tough time at Christmas."
All types of books in new condition are welcomed: board books, picture books, chapter books, young adult fiction, non-fiction and reference. Books donated in Whangārei will be delivered to the Whangārei Women's Refuge, who will distribute them as presents among the young people whose families are using their services this festive season.
Whangārei's Tryphina House Women's Refuge team leader Jodie Harris, said approximately 120 children go through their safe houses each year, and they also support more than 400 children in the community annually, with a diverse array of needs. Many of the children are under 5 but ages range from newborn to around 16.
"The refuge tries its hardest to cater for children of different ages, stages and cultures. Almost all of them have little to nothing but the clothes on their back when they arrive at one of the safe houses. We often find children are drawn to a particular book or toy that they will want to keep for themselves. The gifts are always treasured and provide many hours of joy and distraction."
Donations can be dropped off at Storytime before December 10. For more information, visit www.kiwichristmasbooks.org.nz or follow Kiwi Christmas Books on Facebook or Instagram.