Generosity by the basketful
Ten years ago, a stranger gifted Tam Schurmann a basket of goodies while her mother was suffering from brain cancer.
The love behind the gift had a ‘‘huge impact’’ on her, so when she moved to New Zealand from South Africa she started making baskets for others who were going through hard times.
‘‘I realised there was so much need out there, behind closed doors a lot of the time,’’ Schurmann said.
On the 18th of each month, the date Schurmann’s mother died, a group of volunteers fill ‘‘baskets of blessings’’ with donated items to give to people in the community.
‘‘I was flooded with offers of help and realised so many people want to give and want to help,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s such fun because we never know who’s going to arrive or what is going to arrive.’’
People donate homegrown vegetables, baking, toys, clothes and vouchers, while children help with wrapping and card-making.
A local chef regularly makes two boxes of baking on her only day off, another woman brings homemade muesli, and Queens- town group Stitch ’n Bitch make baby blankets for newborns.
Schurmann said it ’’blew her away’’ how giving the community was.
The group makes abut 15 baskets a month. Their record was 47 baskets in December, which were sent across Otago and Southland.
Those who received the baskets had mixed reactions – some ‘‘burst into tears’’ and others wanted the volunteers to visit again, Schurmann said.
‘‘They may have been feeling so desperately lonely and the knock on the door is just something that is overwhelming for them . . . and people feel undeserving you know.’’
Some people recycle the baskets and send them back with their own gift and a note.
‘‘I think it brings people joy knowing they are supporting others who are in the same situation.’’
Schurmann said the Baskets of Blessings group might apply for charitable status to fund a storage unit for donations and basket courier costs.
At the moment the majority of donations are piled up in Schurmann’s garage and volunteers of the group help deliver the goodies around the region.