All 80 students at Waatea Primary School in Mangere have been gifted warm, fleece-lined winter jackets – the first of 5000 which will be given to children in need at schools across the country.
The jackets were provided as part of a partnership between ASB and the KidsCan charity and were presented during a school assembly.
ASB chief executive Vittoria Shortt says every day thousands of children go to school lacking one of more basic necessities including food, shoes or a warm jacket – and Covid-19 has only exacerbated this.
"The past few months have been challenging for Kiwi families and, for some, Covid-19 will have put an additional strain on already struggling families," she says.
"We want to continue to support the amazing work KidsCan do by providing these jackets which will help 5000 more children go to school warm this winter."
Waatea School principal Tania Rangiheuea says they were thrilled to receive the jackets.
"We're in a low-decile community, so most of our children come from families that are facing challenging times," she says. "Making a decision to buy a jacket in a family with limited resources is a big thing and often they don't get bought.
"Having a jacket means our children will arrive at school dry and warm and ready to learn."
ASB has worked with local Kiwi companies Profile and Adventure Outfitters to source the jackets which are rainproof and fleece lined. The jackets will be distributed to low-decile schools where they are most needed.
KidsCan supports 787 schools and 57 early childhood centres. The economic impact of Covid-19 has led to an additional 10,000 children requiring food support from the charity, an increase of 30 per cent.
Shortt says as a large New Zealand organisation ASB has a significant role to play in the community and sees it support of KidsCan as a hugely important part of that.
"New Zealand shouldn't be a country where any child is going to school cold or hungry," she says. "We're incredibly proud to be a KidsCan partner and to be helping them make a difference."
Shortt says ASB last year introduced a volunteering policy through which staff are provided 12 hours of paid leave annually to volunteer at organisations helping protect the next generation of New Zealanders.
As part of this, staff provide hands-on support to KidsCan, helping prepare and dish up hot meals and packing food and jackets to send to schools.
KidsCan chief executive Julie Chapman says the return to school following lockdown has been hard for many children as their families struggle to cope with job losses from Covid-19.
"We need to do all we can to support vulnerable families through this crisis," she says.
"We've never seen so many children needing food support at school and we know that number is only going to rise; it's going to be a tough winter for many."
Chapman says KidsCan is grateful to ASB for all they're doing to support the charity.
"A warm jacket is a luxury. The kids just love something waterproof and cosy, and it means they can focus on learning instead of how cold they are."
So far this year KidsCan has provided more than 17,500 raincoats and 12,000 pairs of shoes to children in hardship while this term alone it has sent a record 152 tonnes of food to schools fuelling 44,000 children a day.
To donate visit www.KidsCan.org.nz