Share cheer with needy

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Heather McCracken

TOUGH times mean even more fam­i­lies will be strug­gling to put food on the ta­ble this Christ­mas.

So the Cen­tral Leader is get­ting be­hind Auck­land’s Poverty Action Coali­tion to help sup­port fam­i­lies through the fes­tive sea­son.

The One­hunga-based food­bank says de­mand is al­ready up by a third on the same time last year.

Co­or­di­na­tor Bill An­der­son ex­pects to give out close to 200 parcels in De­cem­ber, in­clud­ing ba­sic food items as well as treats and toys for chil­dren.

He says the gifts are al­ways grate­fully re­ceived by fam­i­lies strug­gling to make ends meet.

“They are al­ways over­whelmed,” he says.

“Some­times when it gets close to Christ­mas you have to be­come quite in­ven­tive to put ex­tras in the parcels to en­cour­age that Christ­mas feel­ing. It’s quite dif­fi­cult.”

The food­bank was formed in the 1980s in re­sponse to the poverty caused by ben­e­fit cuts.

“We were hear­ing about peo­ple go­ing hun­gry, and on the other hand we were hear­ing about fac­to­ries dump­ing food,” Mr An­der­son says.

It first op­er­ated from a build­ing in Grey St, One­hunga, but for the past eight or nine years food has been stored in Mr An­der­son’s small one-bed­room flat.

Stor­age space is ur­gently needed to help the group meet de­mand for ser­vices, but the char­ity can’t af­ford to pay com­mer­cial rents.

“We’re not in the busi­ness of mak­ing prof­its, so how can we pay the rent?” Mr An­der­son asks.

Vol­un­teer Pam Moresby first heard about the food­bank when go­ing through tough times in the ear­ly1990s.

“There are a lot of peo­ple in gen­uine need. I was one of them, and they helped me,” she says. “You’ve got to look at peo­ple fairly and not make harsh judge­ments.”

Ms Moresby says they try to in­clude some­thing spe­cial for chil­dren and par­ents at this time of year.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant for kids to know some­one out there thinks of them, that’s the spirit of Christ­mas,” she says.

“But the mother or who­ever’s looking af­ter them of­ten gets for­got­ten.”

Do­na­tions of pet­food are also needed so ev­ery mem­ber of the fam­ily is looked af­ter.

The food­bank gives only three parcels a year to each fam­ily, and do­na­tions are shared with the Sal­va­tion Army and Auck­land City Mis­sion so each ser­vice has a va­ri­ety of food avail­able.

Do­na­tions of non-per­ish­able food and un­wrapped new toys can be placed un­der the tree at the Cen­tral Leader re­cep­tion, Unit 1-3, 72 Do­min­ion Rd, Eden Ter­race, un­til Wed­nes­day, De­cem­ber 17.

To have do­na­tions col­lected, or to of­fer stor­age space, phone 623-9696.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Over­flow­ing: Bill An­der­son with do­na­tions of bread ready to be dis­trib­uted. The Poverty Action Coali­tion food­bank ur­gently needs stor­age for food do­na­tions.

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