John Rowlandson’s skydive helped raise $300,000 for Hato Hone St John.
Now he is joining the Rollers on another charitable endeavour.
Rowlandson started the Rollers in 2020 after he began using a mobility scooter and wanted to connect with more people.
He put the word out to anyone he saw scooting and the Rollers membership had grown to 30, meeting once a month at their Greenwood Park Village for lunch.
They mainly meet to socialise but for the last couple of years, they have found a new end-of-year purpose, turning into Christmas fairies and collecting food for those in need.
The tradition started two years ago, the brainchild of founding member Joy Atkinson who wanted to collect food items for the Tauranga Community Foodbank, which people would leave by their mailbox.
She also wanted to challenge other retirement villages to do the same, though this did not happen due to Covid-19.
Nevertheless, the first year was a success and so was the next, so they did it again this year.
Rowlandson said they put the word out to the residents and said there was no pressure to donate as there had been many donation requests throughout the year already, including for Cyclone Gabrielle.
On collection day, four Rollers scooted around and filled 26 shopping bags with goodies.
Now, with just two weeks left of the Bay of Plenty Times’ six-week Christmas appeal for the Tauranga Community Foodbank, they’re challenging other villages to do the same.
Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said it was “so groovy” and “rolling around the village collecting donations is something I would love to do”.
She said a “huge” amount was collected, though they counted it with other goods so did not have the grand total.
Goodwin loved the idea of friendly competition between local retirement villages, and said they have also received donations from Copper Crest Village and Pacific Lake Villages, which was “super”.
Goodwin said it was the first time Pacific Lake Village, a relatively new village, made a mass donation.
She said the village was also home to seven volunteers who she said were “great people who really care about others”.
This year has seen “record demand”, as the foodbank spent an average of $20,012 per month on staple foods, compared to $14,758 a month the year before.
Its 12-month food budget was spent in five months, and it needed to make changes to the types of food it purchased.
As a result, the foodbank has not been able to include snack foods for families such as two-minute noodles, muesli bars, chips or crackers in the average of 33 parcels sent out each day.
Cash donations are also welcomed, as they mean the foodbank can purchase items it needs when it needs them.
Last year’s six-week appeal saw $256,471 donated - $167,758.84 in cash and $88,712 in food donations, with each item valued at $2.50. It was the highest amount raised in the appeal’s history. The second-highest was a total of $254,416, donated in 2020.
Tauranga Community Foodbank wishlist 2023
- Nappies: Size four, five, six
- Drinking chocolate and coffee
- Muesli bars
- Canned fruit
- Tinned fish
Any items are welcome, even if they’re not on the list. Cash donations are also welcome.
Cira Olivier is a social issues and breaking news reporter for NZME Bay of Plenty. She has been a journalist since 2019.