The Auckland City Mission is expecting its most demanding Christmas ever as it prepares to almost double the amount of food parcels.
The organisation's Christmas campaign kicks off today and chief executive Chris Farrelly hopes Aucklanders will again be generous as it aims to raise $1.5 million.
He said their statistics showed 2018 had been a "particularly challenging" year for families and for many Christmas was simply unaffordable.
"For people who are struggling 364 days of the year it is only fair that for one day there is something to celebrate. People who cannot afford food on a week by week basis cannot afford something special at Christmas, that's where we, and the people of Auckland step in. "
Farrelly said there had been a 27 per cent jump in demand for food parcels this year.
"We know the reality that many people are experiencing and for many families and individuals Christmas is simply unaffordable – not a Christmas of luxury but a Christmas with some of the simple joys.
"We are not asking for extravagance at this time of year. The $1.5 million we are hoping to raise in our Christmas appeal which begins today will not only provide Christmas assistance but also essential services as we go into the new year."
He said 80 per cent of the Mission's operating costs were funding by donations but they also needed help to provide presents for Auckland children.
The organisation had distributed 17,094 emergency food parcels this year, a 27 per cent increase on the previous year.
Adding to financial pressures were expenses including high rental costs which contributed to what he labelled "food insecurity" for thousands of Aucklanders.
"It's incredibly sad that food is a discretionary item for some families and that's where we step in.
"This year the theme of our appeal is about sharing the abundance many of us have – there is more than enough Christmas to go around."
This Christmas the Mission will:
• Provide up to 8000 emergency Christmas food parcels enabling families to celebrate at home (up from 4800 in 2017)
• Distribute 15,000 presents to Auckland children who would otherwise not receive a gift.
• Host 2000 guests at our Christmas lunch – to be held this year at Spark Arena.
• Continue to be there every day for Aucklanders in desperate need.