Christ­mas and the ‘Choco­late Fac­tory’

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - EMILY HEYWARD

Put your­self in Char­lie Bucket’s shoes.

You found a Golden Ticket in a Wonka bar and now you’re stand­ing on the steps as the choco­late fac­tory door swings open.

That’s what Christ­mas should feel like, says Sal­va­tion Army worker Brid­get Lauder.

Of course, Lauder means for that feel­ing of sheer joy, not the choco­late. Al­though, the choco­late might help.

Reg­is­tered so­cial worker Brid­get Lauder said Christ­mas was the busiest time of year for the Sal­va­tion Army, with ‘‘mas­sive’’ de­mand for food parcels.

Lauder said the Sal­lies were see­ing more fam­i­lies on two in­comes strug­gling to make ends meet and look­ing for help.

The packages usu­ally lasted about a week and in­cluded items such as bread, meat, canned food and toi­let paper.

Un­for­tu­nately, not ev­ery­one got that feel­ing of joy at Christ­mas, like the chil­dren from Char­lie and the Choco­late Fac­tory.

The Sal­va­tion Army’s 2017 State of the Na­tion Re­port showed the de­mand for food parcels in the South Is­land grew by 4 per cent to 14,400 parcels be­tween 2015 to 2016.

This fes­tive sea­son more than 17,000 fam­i­lies across New Zealand were ex­pected to seek help from the Sal­va­tion Army for food, bud­get­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, ac­com­mo­da­tion and coun­selling.

While more peo­ple sought help for food packages around Christ­mas time, Lauder said the army’s role wasn’t just about pro­vid­ing food as­sis­tance.

They were also about giv­ing gifts and bring­ing cheer to fam­i­lies.

A Sal­va­tion Army ini­tia­tive called Op­er­a­tion for Kids last week in Marl­bor­ough gave fam­i­lies in need the chance to choose some Christ­mas gifts for their chil­dren.

So­cial ser­vice agen­cies in the re­gion were each able to nom­i­nate 10 fam­i­lies, ben­e­fit­ing close to 300 Marl­bor­ough chil­dren.

The Sal­va­tion Army was not the only agency to see a de­mand for as­sis­tance.

Cross­roads Marl­bor­ough Char­i­ta­ble Trust co-or­di­na­tor Janette Walker said there was a ‘‘re­lent­less’’ de­mand for help, par­tic­u­larly for emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Walker said there were a lot of fam­i­lies coming to her for as­sis­tance and it had been un­wa­ver­ing over the last two years.

Hun­dreds of vol­un­teers hit the streets last month in a bid to fill the shelves at the Marl­bor­ough Com­mu­nity Food Bank.

Marl­bor­ough Com­mu­nity Food Bank man­ager Wyn­nie Cos­grove said an ‘‘avalanche of food’’ flooded in, fill­ing up the empty shelves. About 30 per cent more food (cans and non-per­ish­able items) was raised at this year’s food haul than last year, which meant more fam­i­lies would re­ceive help this Christ­mas.

PAULA HULBURT/STUFF

Sal­va­tion Army reg­is­tered so­cial worker Brid­get Lauder says there is ‘‘mas­sive’’ de­mand for food parcels at Christ­mas.

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