An initiative in Te Awamutu run by local Christian Churches, Kainga Aroha and the community police to create 200 hampers for those in need this holiday season has been overwhelmed with support and donations.
At the forefront of Operation Christmas Hampers is Zion People Church which joined with the police last week for a food drive around Te Awamutu and Kihikihi streets.
As the police sirens went off people came outside to first see what all the commotion was about before catching on and going back to collect food from their pantries.
"There's been a lot of cool community spirit and we're blown away by the response we've had. We didn't have anyone who was in opposition and once people knew what we were out doing they were on board," said member of Zion People Church Kathy Strong.
"We even had some children sitting or waiting by their fences."
Zion People Church member who came up with the ambitious idea, Ashlea Bennett, believes over the three collection nights they received approximately two tonnes of donated food.
Because so many people took to the idea of the food drive the volunteers behind Operation Christmas Hampers are doing one last drive tonight around Te Awamutu covering Taylors Hill, Brill Rd, Teasdale St, Te Tomo St, Te Rahu Rd, Mutu St, Bank St and Piquet Hill Rd.
On their most recent drive, which was in Kihikihi last Friday, the volunteers walked over 8km and are in for a rather long and hilly walk again tonight.
The initiative also gained overwhelming support from Te Awamutu Primary which ran a school-wide competition to see which class could round up the most food donations. In the end over 20 boxes of food were handed over and the winners, room 22, won pizza for lunch.
The volunteers behind the initiative thanked all the local businesses that had supported Operation Christmas Hampers, particularly Fresh Choice which has made large donations.
They are also collecting presents for kids in need and people can donate items such as toys or can simply donate money which will help to buy presents for older kids as these aren't commonly donated.
Gift donations can be taken to Zion People Church as can money, which can also be donated through a bank account that is on the Operation Christmas Hampers Facebook page.
Other ways you can donate food include drop-off points at Fresh Choice, Pak'nSave, Kainga Aroha and Zion People Church.
For more information about ways to donate call Zion People Church on 07 871 3888.