St John is calling on Kiwis to show their "hearts of gold" by supporting its annual appeal, which runs from April 5 to 11.
St John's Heart of Gold Annual Appeal is the most significant fundraising campaign of the calendar year and the goal is to raise $1.8 million for much-needed ambulances and lifesaving equipment.
"The appeal captures the spirit of what St John is all about – having a heart and helping people in need. We are grateful for the tremendous support and generosity of the public that enables our ambulance staff to deliver their lifesaving care to communities right across Aotearoa," says St John chief executive Peter Bradley.
Despite months of planning and preparation, last year's nationwide street collections and campaign were cancelled due to the Covid-19 lockdown and the economic uncertainty posed on New Zealanders.
"As a charitable organisation, we are grateful for the funding we receive from government, but St John has to fundraise to plug a gap in our operating costs in order to maintain the highest standard of lifesaving equipment and ambulances," says Bradley.
"Last year we received over half a million emergency calls into our 111 ambulance communication centres. With an ageing population and increasing demand for our services every year, we need the public's support more than ever," he says.
It is St John's emergency ambulance service that has been there numerous times for radio and television presenter Jason Reeves and his family.
When Jason's son Olly had an anaphylactic episode in January, Jason and his wife Louise found themselves in a horrifying situation. Despite two shots of adrenalin, their five-year-old struggled to breathe and developed a rash, urgently needing an ambulance.
The St John ambulance officers quickly arrived on scene and provided the critical care Olly needed and transported him to hospital where he made a positive recovery.
"We fully believe we owe St John and its amazing staff a hell of a lot," says Reeves. "Truly try and get behind St John because we need them, and they need us to help them."
To cater to an increasingly cashless society, this year St John has partnered with ASB and Giv2 to include the option of donating via a QR code, which will be available on collection buckets, posters and on TVNZ OnDemand advertisements.
While St John's Heart of Gold Annual Appeal runs for a week, there will be activity throughout April and St John is encouraging everyone, including businesses, schools, and organisations throughout the country to join in the fun and support this year's campaign in whatever way they can.
Donations can be made at any ASB branch across New Zealand, online at heartofgold.org.nz, by calling 0800 ST JOHN, or to St John and ASB volunteer street collectors throughout New Zealand.
• St John provides emergency ambulance services to 90% of New Zealanders and covers 97% of the country's geographical area.
• St John received over 540,000 emergency calls into 111 Ambulance Communications centres and treated and/or transported over 460,000 patients in the last financial year ( July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020).
• St John is made up of a mix of full-time paid employees and volunteer staff.
• St John has contracts with Ministry of Health and ACC, which fund about 78 per cent of the operating costs for the ambulance service. The balance is made up from ambulance part charges, third-party contracts and fundraising.
• Along with the emergency ambulance service, St John operates a significant number of community health programmes, social enterprises and other activities that help build community resilience.