With just days to go until the big day, volunteers at the City Mission are preparing mountains of food for their 2000-guest Christmas lunch.
Over 500 volunteers have been involved planning and organising the special event, which will involve 300kg of ham, 2000 chicken drumsticks, 300kg of potatoes and tubs of jelly and icecream.
City Missioner Chris Farrelly admitted it was a massive undertaking - but it meant a great deal to the Aucklanders living in desperate poverty. For most of the guests, it's their only joyful experience in an otherwise stressful and difficult holiday season.
"The people who come to Christmas lunch at the mission bring with them myriad stories of trauma and sadness," Farrelly said.
"They may be homeless or living in poverty and unable to afford to have their Christmas meal at home. They may be elderly or alone and have nowhere else to go. Or they may be estranged from their families. Whatever their circumstances, the mission welcomes them on Christmas Day to share a meal and company."
Single mum Tina and her two children will attend the lunch. She's recently moved to Auckland from the South Island, as her youngest daughter has medical issues that mean she requires regular specialist treatment at Starship Children's Hospital.
"I don't have any family in Auckland, and because my daughter has high medical needs, I can't work," Tina said.
"I was going to spend Christmas alone with my kids, and then I heard about the lunch the mission puts on. I'm glad I have a place to go because this Christmas is really hard for us."
The Christmas lunch will be held at the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre at 161 Halsey St in the CBD. The doors open at 11.30am on Christmas Day and entertainment is provided until lunch is served at 12.30pm. Every guest will receive a gift before going home.
Farrelly said that Christmas is the mission's busiest time of the year and almost 4000 desperate families had visited over the past three weeks for food parcels. Around 8000 presents had been given to children.
Farrelly urged Kiwis to make a donation to help the mission continue to put on its services. Next year it expects to give out 13,000 emergency food parcels and continue to be there for Aucklanders in desperate need.
"Your help makes Christmas possible for thousands of families, particularly children, who live in desperate poverty. Your donations make a significant difference to people who are struggling."
Over 80 per cent of the mission's services are funded through donations. And year-round, they provide low-cost healthcare, drug and alcohol services, outreach support for rough sleepers and isolated elderly people, an activities programme and community centre for central Auckland's homeless population, and a Crisis Care service for low-income individuals and families.
Donations can be made at aucklandcitymission.org.nz or by calling the mission on 09 303 9200.