Cans, boxes and packets of non-perishable food items are at the top of Christmas shopping lists Rotorua-wide.

The annual Rotorua Daily Post Christmas Appeal aims to make those items accessible to all by topping up the Rotorua Salvation Army Foodbank and the fifth annual Fill the Bus campaign will help that.

How to donate. Image / File
How to donate. Image / File

Over the course of the Fill the Bus day a bus, provided by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, drives around the city making stops to collect food for the appeal. This year it will be held on December 5.

Hits Rotorua producer Paul Hickey said Fill the Bus brought joy to both recipients and donors.

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"Last year we were collecting at the Otonga Rd shops with Sam Sinclair and a boy walking to school asked us what we were doing. Then he went into the dairy and spent his lunch money to buy stuff to put on the bus."

Lynmore School is one of many Rotorua schools collecting donations for the campaign and the bus will make a stop at the school on the day.

Lynmore School Year 6 councillors from left, Riley Hausman, Siwan Lloyd-Jones, Olly Garrood, Brooke Mills, Ava Tremain, Maddison Sherwood, Bellah Birchall, and Hannah Kiernan. Photo / Stephen Parker
Lynmore School Year 6 councillors from left, Riley Hausman, Siwan Lloyd-Jones, Olly Garrood, Brooke Mills, Ava Tremain, Maddison Sherwood, Bellah Birchall, and Hannah Kiernan. Photo / Stephen Parker

The Year 5 student production is on next week, and entry is a donated can of food.

Staff have even decided to replace the annual "Secret Santa" gift giving with donations to the foodbank instead.

Principal Lorraine Taylor said despite the fact the school was high decile, the school community was "really aware that Christmas is particularly challenging for some families".

"This has got worse in the last few years. Principals see it in attendance. When people have nowhere to live, going to school is put down the list of priorities."

School council members, lead by teacher Wendy Watson, were calling for donations at Lynmore School.

Last year Fill the Bus included 25 stops over 12 hours. Photo / File
Last year Fill the Bus included 25 stops over 12 hours. Photo / File

"Fortunately we are a large school, so it is easy for us to make a big difference, even if everyone brings just one item," Taylor said.

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School council member Hannah Kiernan, 10, said donating food made students feel "a lot better".

"It's stopping other kids from starving."

Last year, the bus made 25 stops in 12 hours with support from Rotorua police, Silver Ferns Sam Sinclair and Katrina Grant and My Kitchen Rules contestant Tash Whitewood.

The 2017 appeal raised $82,080 in food and cash donations, as schools, workplaces and community groups rallied behind the cause in Rotorua.

Rotorua Salvation Army corps officer Ralph Overbye said the bank's needs were "as important as ever" this Christmas.

"For those less fortunate, it really brings them hope to know that others in their community care about them."

The appeal was launched by the Rotorua Daily Post, the Rotorua Weekender and The Hits Rotorua 97.5FM earlier this month.

Christmas hampers will be made from donated food, and monetary donations will be used to buy more food for those in need. The annual appeal helps the foodbank become stocked up for the full year to come.

By the end of last week, the foodbank had received 450 items, with five weeks to go.