The Christmas spirit is well and truly alive in Rotorua.

The boxes of food and toys have been counted and, with 5357 food items and 1126 toys donated, the 2017 Fill the Bus was officially the most successful yet. Last year the food items donated tallied 4298.

The 12-hour food drive on Wednesday, which is in its third year, made 25 stops across Rotorua before being unloaded and counted at the Salvation Army.

Read more: Fill the bus for Salvation Army appeal an 'overwhelming success'
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The event was led by The Hits, with all proceeds going to the Rotorua Daily Post Christmas Appeal for the Salvation Army foodbank.

Salvation Army Rotorua officer Kylie Overbye said the estimated value of the food was $10,714 and the toys $4375.

"The Rotorua community amazes me every year because every year we seem to receive more. It's just amazing how the whole community gets behind the Christmas and foodbank drives.

"It goes such a long way to helping people throughout the year who really need it. We're so grateful for everyone's support. Rotorua is particularly generous, there's a real community spirit," Overbye said.

She said there were a number of people and organisations who helped with the running of the event as well as raising its profile.

It's time to unload the bus as the sun goes down on another successful Fill the Bus day!

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

"The Hits did a great job, the bus driver went above and beyond, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the amount of people helping with the sorting and counting was amazing."

The Rotorua police, Silver Ferns Sam Sinclair and Katrina Grant and My Kitchen Rules contestants Tash Whitewood and Hera Waitai were all on board helping out.

The Hits announcer Paul Hickey said it was "a stunning day" and he was not just talking about the weather.


"You always go into these things not quite sure how they are going to turn out, but I think we now know, after three years doing it, that the community gets behind it and it was shown again [on Wednesday].

"From the big businesses who donate lots through to those people who show up with the one can - it's people from all walks of life and they all help make a difference," Hickey said.

#WATCH: The generosity from everyone, especially our local schools, has been incredible! Check out this haul from Otonga Rd Primary School. Tumeke guys! We are at Mega Mitre 10 right now and next stop is Te Ngae shopping centre at 1pm. Show us what you've got eastsiders!

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

He said it was great to see children involved in donating as well.

"That includes all the schools we visit, but also those who turn up to our public stops with a couple of cans. They're of all ages and it's really neat to see them involved.

"This is a caring community and everybody likes to do their bit. [The impact Fill the Bus has on families in need] is invaluable. For so many people in the community it is hard to imagine going without and it's easy at times to go about your own life and forget how hard some people have it.

"They really do rely on the work the Salvation Army do, especially with the Food Bank, and at this time of year where you don't want to be under too much extra pressure."

When asked if Fill the Bus would be back for a fourth year in 2018, Hickey said "most definitely, without a doubt".

"We're always looking at ways we can make it better and easier for people to donate," he said."

Donations to the Rotorua Daily Post Christmas Appeal for the Salvation Army foodbank can still be made at the Rotorua Daily Post, Rotorua Police Station or the Rotorua Salvation Army.

Fill the Bus 2017

5357 food items at an estimated value of $10,714 donated
1059 more food items than in 2016
1126 toys at an estimated value of $4375 donated