As part of the Rotorua Daily Post's Christmas Appeal, reporter Ben Flood headed down to the Salvation Army Community Ministries centre to lend a hand at the foodbank.

Bright smiles and bright attitudes are the first thing you notice when walking into the Salvation Army Community Ministries centre.

Both attributes are needed if your purpose for each day is to lift the spirits of those in need.

Social worker Suzy King gives me a tour of the building and takes me to the foodbank.


Suzy's role is to organises meetings with clients before referring them on to the foodbank.

"A lot of our clients are on low incomes and have problems budgeting, so when I sit down with them I try to see what else we can do to help them, or if we can refer them to another agency," she said.

The hardest part of what she does is developing a relationship with her clients during a 30-minute appointment.

"Not many people are comfortable with disclosing their information so we have to work hard to gain their trust in a short amount of time."

As Christmas approaches, more and more families are struggling to put food on the table as well as buying gifts, which makes the Salvation Army foodbank such a godsend for many.

"It takes a lot of courage for someone to walk through our doors but at this time of year it may be their only option.

"Now that the appeal has started we're seeing a lot of people pop in and donate food. Even if it's only a box of cereal or some toilet paper, it all helps out," Suzy said.

After I am shown around the building I am introduced to another volunteer who shows me the ropes.

The man, who doesn't want to be named, has been helping out at the foodbank for a month and is loving every minute of it.

"It's such a gratifying experience to help people who are struggling and you meet people from so many different backgrounds."

I start my shift by scooping butter into separate portions for each food parcel. You'd be lucky to finish the day without any on your shirt.

At one point the sink overflows because we are deep in conversation, luckily I manage to turn the tap off before it floods the whole room.

After Suzy comes to the rescue to help mop up our mess, it is time to prepare the first food parcel of the day.

She comes through after talking to a client and lets us know how many people we need to make the food parcel for and for how many days.

We throw in a bit of everything, from tinned foods, biscuits, chips, baking ingredients and toiletries.

For a single mother we add extra chips and muesli bars for her children and we grab a jar of coffee or some tea bags for a couple of adults.

Boxes are packed to the brim with and we struggle to lift them once they were ready. The clients' faces light up as we walk in the room with them.

And they can't stop saying thank you for making their day a little less stressful.