A steady supply of food items and soft toys has been trickling into the Salvation Army since stocks ran dry last week - but church officials say more is needed.

Good Samaritans have dropped off their donations at the church's Whangarei office and the Northern Advocate, which last week launched an appeal for food.

A 22 per cent increase in demand for food parcels rendered the army's stocks empty, prompting real fears it might have to buy items for the 200 Christmas hampers to be handed out tomorrow. The army's director of community ministries in Whangarei, Peter Mullenger, yesterday said although there had been a steady donation of food and toys, it was nowhere near the level required.

"Not because people are not bringing stuff in but due to demand," he said.


With public donations, a street appeal last Friday and Christmas in the Park on Saturday, Mr Mullenger said his volunteers were reasonably happy with the situation. He thanked the community for their ongoing support and this newspaper for organising an appeal that triggered the public into action.

The church has received a good share of spaghetti and baked beans but was short on flour, rice, pasta and tinned fruit.

Its food bank is seeing more than 30 families a day, instead of 20, and an increasing number of single fathers and youths are seeking help.

Whangarei woman Doreen Brechelt was among a slew of people who dropped off their donations at the Advocate office.

She hand-knitted toys - something she'd been doing for 56 years, together with sewing toys for raffles.

Donations can still be dropped off either at the army's Aubrey St office or at the Northern Advocate office on Robert St.