Sarah Davis wants all children to enjoy the magic of Christmas.
The growing pile of gifts under the tree in the Mahurangi Matters office proves locals are thinking beyond their own friends and families when it comes to spreading Christmas cheer this festive season, despite a tough year.
Among the first to contribute was Sarah Davis, of Snells Beach, who turned up at the office with two large shopping bags filled with toys.
She says that as a mother of three children, she would hate to think there might be children in other families who might miss out on the “magic of Christmas”.
“Especially this year, when it’s been pretty tough for everyone,” she says.
Gifts left under the Mahurangi Matters tree will be given to Women’s Centre Rodney and Homebuilders Family Services for distribution to struggling families.
Generous Kiwis can also leave donations of non-perishable food, which will support the Mahu Vision Community Trust’s Christmas Foodbox appeal.
Foodbox coordinator Michelle Saleupolu says the trust is especially on the lookout for gifts of biscuits, spreads, toothpaste and soap, which the trust often runs short of.
Last year, the trust donated 150 Christmas Foodboxes to families that could use a helping hand. Already, the trust has orders for 165 boxes from social welfare organisations and schools, with some still to provide beneficiary lists.
Ms Saleupolu says the trust has also seen increased demand for food parcels outside the Christmas period. It supplied 491 parcels between January and October this year, compared to 351 over the same period last year.
“We have been able to keep up with the demand as the generosity of the community has been amazing,” she says.
She adds that that generosity has included Warkworth and Snells Beach primary schools, which have promoted “Bring a Can” days to help fill Christmas Foodboxes.
Homebuilders coordinator Quentin Jukes is unsurprised by the increased demand for food aid, saying that across large parts of society there is more financial insecurity due to the impact of Covid-19.
He says problems will be exacerbated following last month’s ending of Covid-19 Income Relief Payments and skyrocketing house prices.
“The stress of accessing housing has been terrible for a long time, and it’s getting worse,” he says.
“Even those who have managed to hang on to their jobs are often trying to cope with reduced hours and loss of overtime.”
Mr Jukes says although gifts of toys to families finding it hard to cope this Christmas will not solve their money worries, they provide a much-needed psychological boost.
“The message that has come out of Covid is that being kind to each other and looking out for each other is the way that we will get through this,” he says.
“Yay, for everybody who can and does do something.”
Gifts of toys and non-perishable food can be left under the Mahurangi Matters tree until Monday, December 7. Gifts should be new and unwrapped, and preferably encourage play and creativity such as art supplies, books, games or things for the beach.
Ways to give this Christmas
In addition to leaving gifts under the tree in the Mahurangi Matters office, the following are also accepting donations this Christmas …
Hestia Women’s Refuge is accepting new toys for children and gifts for women. Please leave unwrapped and don’t include anything that requires batteries. Mark for Hestia Women’s Refuge and drop off at Harcourts, 21 Queen Street, Warkworth. Deadline: Thursday, December 17.
Te Whai Community Trust is accepting gifts of non-perishable foods, Christmas treats and presents for children. Gifts can be dropped off at various locations in Mangawhai including Mangawhai Museum, St John Village Op Shop and Mangawhai Kindergarten. Deadline: Friday, December 18. firstname.lastname@example.org
Coast to Coast Healthcare Appeal is accepting unwrapped gifts for children, including soft toys. They will even take broken toys that volunteers can repair. Drop gifts into any Coast to Coast Medical Centre – Warkworth, Snells Beach, Matakana, Wellsford, Mangawhai, Maungaturoto or Paparoa. There is no deadline. Gifts that come in late will be held over to 2021.