The festive season is fast approaching, and many people throughout Rotorua will soon be pulling out the tree to decorate, or planning a Christmas day feast.

However, for some people the festive season brings more stress and worries - and the Rotorua community can lend a helping hand.

Rotorua Daily Post, with the Rotorua Weekender and The Hits Rotorua 97.5FM, has launched its annual Christmas Appeal.

From now until December 20, the NZME team will be seeking donations to help the Salvation Army Foodbank continue its work throughout the Christmas period and into 2020.

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Over the past year, the Salvation Army has supported more than 600 families and provided about 200 food parcels to those in need every quarter.

Foods including tinned baked beans, soup and spaghetti, plus staples such as pasta and rice are always welcome along with anything else people are willing to give.
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Rotorua Salvation Army corps officers Kylie and Ralph Overbye say the appeal is of huge importance to the charity because it allows it to provide anyone in need over the Christmas period with food, but also keeps foodbank stocks high throughout the year.

The food donated through the appeal goes towards creating Christmas hampers for those in need. Any money donated will be used to buy more food.

Any gifts donated are given to families for their children.

The Salvation Army asks that gifts be brought in unwrapped, so parents can be provided with paper to wrap them themselves.

Last year's appeal raised an estimated $63,279 worth of food and gifts, with the food count total coming to an estimated 22,136 items.

Moana Houkamau (left) and Danielle Porteous got into the festive spirit at last year's Fill the Bus. Photo / File
Moana Houkamau (left) and Danielle Porteous got into the festive spirit at last year's Fill the Bus. Photo / File

After its roaring success last year, another Fill the Bus event will take place on December 4. The bus will travel around the city so locals can fill it with canned goods.

The 2018 Fill the Bus event had 5844 food items donated from schools, workplaces and the public.
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A number of Rotorua schools have already signed up to take part in this year's appeal, including Lynmore School, Malfroy School, Ngongotahā School, Rotokawa School, Westbrook School, Mokoia Intermediate and Otonga Road School.

Otonga Road School has taken part in Fill the Bus for many years and pupils are excited to be getting behind it once again.

Seth Morrissey, 10, and Sol Stowe, 11, say it's about donating food to other people and to those who may struggle with the extra costs of the festive season.

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Seth says knowing you are helping other people makes you feel happy and "brings joy to your heart".

"If you do it, other people might do it too."

Erinn Seeley, 10, says "if you spread good, you get good".

Otonga Road School assistant principal Belinda Herbert says taking part in the appeal and Fill the Bus has been an annual thing for the school for many years.

She says it is good for children to learn at this age about giving back and helping others, so they can take it with them into adulthood.

A special part of this year's appeal is that the Salvation Army is opening its new wrap-around centre on Pukuatua St, which the Overbyes describe as a community hub.