Celebrating Christmas is often difficult for families on low incomes, so the Salvation Army is setting up a way to help out.
They're called Giving Trees, and this Christmas the Salvation Army has two of them, one in Trafalgar Square, which opens on December 12, and the other in the Salvation Army Family Store at 432 Victoria Ave.
Countdown partners with the Salvation Army nationally, so putting a tree outside Countdown in Whanganui is an extension of that relationship.
"They have kindly given us that space for seven days," says Gayle Roberts, Salvation Army Community Ministries Development Manager. "We'll have a table there and a six-foot tree with Christmas tree-shaped tags."
Each tag will denote boy or girl and an age group.
"People can take a tag, head on into the mall, do some shopping and bring it back to us. They can take it to the Family Store or they can take it Trafalgar Square during that time." People can also drop gifts off at the Salvation Army in Indus St. The period of giving is from December 12 to 18.
"Countdown also does Christmas food for us. Every week you can give to the Salvation Army through Countdown for our food banks."
Christmas food goes into the Countdown Christmas trolleys or everyday pantry items into collection boxes at Countdown Whanganui and Countdown Victoria Ave.
Another of the Army's partners is the City Mission which runs the food bank.
"Among the 100-odd Christmas food parcels I'm putting together, some are referrals from City Mission."
Some people self-refer and Gayle has interviewed them all.
Her budget has enabled her to put together 100 parcels this year.
"On the day, when those people come here, they will be welcomed into this [Indus St] space, where we might have music and mince pies and maybe a Christmas video playing.
Here will be set up a toy grotto with the toys that are given at the Giving Trees. We invite our families to come in and choose the presents for their children."
December 18, 19 and 20 are the days when Christmas food hampers and toys are distributed at the Indus St premises.
The food hampers consist of a chicken, potatoes, vegetables, gravy and a cold dessert. There will also be a table from which they can choose extras, like eggs, Christmas cake and the Christmas food that comes in the Countdown trolleys.
Money for Gayle's budget comes from local donations.