The package that arrived for Xavier Mika by post recently was initially thought to be something he’d bought online.
Sixteen-year-old Xavier ripped it open and was shocked and excited to find that it contained a medal – he was one of 100 to receive a Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Local Hero medal for 2022.
The Year 11 Whangaparāoa College student, from Stanmore Bay, was nominated for working with food rescue charity Love Soup Hibiscus Coast to ensure other students have lunch.
His initiative began early last year. Xavier had been volunteering with Love Soup since he was 11 years old and when he came across a fellow student who was hungry, he talked with Love Soup director, Julie King, about what he could do to help.
Thirty lunches were initially supplied free of charge at the school, made with food donated to Love Soup.
By the time the latest lockdown happened, this had grown to 450 lunch packs. Free lunches are also being distributed to other local schools and HBC Youth Centre in Ōrewa.
Xavier, who now has help from other volunteers, introduced Free Soup Friday just before lockdown, attracting hundreds of students. He hopes to introduce a free canteen, which he is calling The Soup Shack, at the college next year.
Xavier says he was very humbled and grateful to receive the award.
“I want to thank the people who nominated me,” he says.
Backstories March 17 and June 16, 2021