It's Fill the Bus day in Rotorua!

Locals are being called on to jump on board with The Hits Rotorua and support a good cause today with the big green bus making its way around the city collecting non-perishable food items over 12 hours.

One of the first donations came from Monty Kumar from Western Heights Four Square who said he was happy to donate to such a good cause. Kumar said it made his day and makes everybody's day.

Puawaereti Ryder left and Suzy King from Sallies with Shawna and Mila Hawke 15 months. Photo / Ben Fraser
Puawaereti Ryder left and Suzy King from Sallies with Shawna and Mila Hawke 15 months. Photo / Ben Fraser

Shawna Hawke and her daughter 15-month-old Mila met the bus at the St Andrews shops.

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"We donated last year when [Mila] was little. It's a good time to donate."

Fill the Bus is at Brookland Rd shops in Western Heights. Photo / Ben Fraser
Fill the Bus is at Brookland Rd shops in Western Heights. Photo / Ben Fraser

Kahira Rata Olley said she had been supporting the Foodbank appeal for the past seven years.

Ngongotahā Primary School students help Fill the Bus. Photo / Ben Fraser
Ngongotahā Primary School students help Fill the Bus. Photo / Ben Fraser

"Salvation Army have been an awesome support for the kaupapa I do within the community. I run wananga for wahine who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and Salvos will koha whatever they can.

"I also do Full Puku for Potential kaupapa - making lunches for three kura. Usually on Wednesday or Thursday [the Salvation Army] koha buns and bread for us to be able to koha to the local kura," said Olley.

#WATCH: Fill the Bus is underway at Brookland Rd shops!

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Kilwell director Amanda Wells said it was a great cause.

"There's plenty of people out there who aren't so fortunate like the rest of us and anything we can do to help out we want to chip in."

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First credit union branch manager Anne Hunter said this was the first year the branch had helped fill the bus though they had backed the appeal before.

"We've had an amazing effort by our staff and members.

"There are so many vulnerable people out there and it can be such a tough time at Christmas.

"We're all about community and it's getting our staff involved in the community."

The Hits presenter Paul Hickey said the day was off to a good start.

"We're well ahead of where we were last year. It's going well, there's been a good response."

The bus will be at Countdown Fenton St until 10.30am before making a number of private stops at schools around the city.

Countdown Fenton St donated a trolley full of food.

Store manager John Burns said the Salvation Army was a good cause the store supported in many ways.

The donated food had come from customers and off the shelves.

"There's people this time of year that do need a bit of a helping hand...It's always good to be supporting the people of Rotorua."

Items donated at Countdown included juice, Christmas cakes, peaches, and spreads.

The public is also welcome to make donations at the stop.

Jovan Bosch, Richard Cunliffe, Luca Allibone, all 13, from Rotorua Intermediate School. Photo / Ben Fraser
Jovan Bosch, Richard Cunliffe, Luca Allibone, all 13, from Rotorua Intermediate School. Photo / Ben Fraser

The next public stop is at 3.10pm at Fresh Choice.

All items collected will go towards the Rotorua Daily Post Salvation Army Foodbank Christmas Appeal, which aims to restock the organisation's foodbank in time for Christmas and 2019.

Fill the bus

Salvation Army corps officer Ralph Overbye said Fill the Bus was a vital part of the Rotorua Daily Post Christmas appeal.

"It's a big chunk of what we receive during the appeal.

"Our total last year was over $80,000 and fill the bus was two-thirds, three-quarters of that. It's massive."

Overbye said he was looking forward to a "busy but fruitful" day.

Pupils at Otonga School fill the bus.

At Otonga Rd School pupils have been donating to the cause for about a month.

Assistant principal Belinda Herbert said they had supported Fill the Bus since it started.

"It's all about giving back to the community. They need to learn from a young age it's not just about taking its about giving and how we can help others."

Zoe Parker, 10, said she enjoyed helping the people who needed it.

"Students just bring their food up to the office then we put it into bags and now we're putting it into the bus."

Luca Allibone, 13, (left) Jovan Bosch, 13, and Richard Cunliffe, 13, from Rotorua Intermediate. Photo / Ben Fraser
Luca Allibone, 13, (left) Jovan Bosch, 13, and Richard Cunliffe, 13, from Rotorua Intermediate. Photo / Ben Fraser

Rotorua Intermediate School pupil Jovan Bosch, 13, said the school had only been collecting goods for two days and had asked classes to bring in items.

"It's been a really good result. There's a lot more than we expected.

"It helps the community and feeds the people that need it."

Bus driver Paul Bainbridge has driven the bus every year.

"I work for Cityride and the first year they did it they asked if I'd mind driving. I've done it ever since."

He said he enjoyed getting out with The Hits.

"It's amazing how much we get. It's just got bigger and bigger. The amount the schools are putting in is getting to be more and more."

Westbrook School deputy principal Rachel Weinberg said the pupils donated 40 bags worth of groceries.

"It was a bit slow at first but the last few days we drummed up enthusiasm for it.

"Every year we donate to the Salvation Army. The kids are really generous. They like supporting things like this."

Toby Hurihanganui, 10, said it was exciting to see the bus roll up.

Salvation Army Rotorua foodbank co-ordinator Suzy King said the items collected on the day helped the foodbank over Christmas but also into the new year.

She said the work the foodbank didn't wasn't just about feeding people.

"It's about getting people to engage with us to help them work through concerns. Initially it might be food."

Over the Christmas period the foodbank worked with external agencies to get referrals.

King said it was great to see businesses, schools and locals support the food drive.

"It's amazing at our schools because the kids get so excited about being able to give.

"When you're teaching your kids to give to those less fortunate it's really planting a seed of hope so they won't forget. In the future they might need support from us."

As the afternoon wore on the bus stopped at Kawaha Point Primary School.

Kawaha Point School's Nani Challans, 9, carries food out to the bus. Photo / Ben Fraser
Kawaha Point School's Nani Challans, 9, carries food out to the bus. Photo / Ben Fraser

Pupils Quinn Doube, 11, said the school had a mufti day where pupils brought a can to donate.

Leah Theunissen, 11, said everybody deserved a gift at Christmas.

Yesterday Skyline collected cans for the appeal by accepting non-perishable items as payment for one gondola ride.

Today the bus stopped to collect the goods.

Ngongotahā Primary School students help Fill the Bus. Photo / Ben Fraser
Ngongotahā Primary School students help Fill the Bus. Photo / Ben Fraser

General manager Andrew Jensen said they were happy to support the appeal and roughly 700 people rode the gondola.

"The Salvation Army do an amazing job, they have for many years, and we support the community in other ways but we thought this was a good opportunity to get behind and support the Salvation Army.

"The delight on people's faces as they came through to go up the gondola backed it all up as well."

The bus collected from businesses which had been collecting cans such as the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Rotorua Lakes Council.

The final school the bus stopped at was Owhata Primary School where teacher Callie Raureti said the donations had been collected through a mufti day and there were about 300 cans donated.

"We've got about 270 kids, some brought two, some brough one for a friend.

"We like to think we're responsive to the needs of our community ... The kids are really stoked about it. They all understand we're giving cans to help whānau that need extra kai and awhi over Christmas."

The bus started this morning at the Western Heights Shops on Brookland Rd at 7.10am.

From there the bus will stop at 20 locations around the city before the goods are unloaded and counted at the Salvation Army from 6.10pm.

Wow Lynmore School you rock! #fillthebus https://www.nzherald.co.nz/rotorua-daily-post/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503438&objectid=12171213

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Olly Garrood, 11, Ben Breeze, 11, and Wendy Watson at Lynmore School.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Reesby have again donated the use of a bus.

Join us here and on the Rotorua Daily Post Facebook page or tune into The Hits 97.5 for all the updates.