Fonterra Grass Roots Fund is preparing to give a helping hand to community projects and groups across the Lower Waikato region.

Each year the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund helps more than 300 community groups throughout New Zealand by supporting projects that help maintain active, healthy and safe communities.

Applications for the next round of funding close on March 31 and Fonterra's global sponsorship manager Kane Silcock encourages all groups and organisations to apply.

"This is our way of giving back to the communities we live and work in. The Fonterra Grass Roots Fund supports initiatives that enrich people's lives and benefit their community," he says.

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Grants range from $500 to $5000 for projects that fit into one of three categories: Bringing communities together; caring for our environment; making our communities safer.

Fonterra Grass Roots Fund helped a number of school and community groups last year, such as staff and volunteers at the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, who are responsible for the care and protection of the Sanctuary Mountain in Maungatautari.

The Trust said that the new shirts the fund enabled the staff and volunteers to purchase, allow the sanctuary's profile and brand amongst locals and tourists to be lifted.

Other recipients included Karapiro School, which planned to use their grant to help with the school's agricultural day, and Kawhia Volunteer Fire Brigade, which purchased more props for CPR training among their members.

Calls for applications are open twice each year and applications received in each round are considered by Fonterra's sponsorship team and the regional Fonterra Grass Roots Fund committee. The committee is made up of Fonterra shareholders and staff and other community representatives.

¦To find out more about the projects that have been funded, see the full terms and conditions or to apply for a grant, head to www.facebook.com/FonterraGrassRoots or for more information email the Fonterra Grass Roots Team: Fonterragrassroots@fonterra.com