Christ­mas spirit re­turns with wish­ing tree

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - JOHN LEWIS john.lewis@odt.co.nz

IT was be­gin­ning to look a lot like Christ­mas at Kmart in Dunedin yes­ter­day as pre­sents started pil­ing up un­der the Kmart Wish­ing Tree.

The 24th an­nual ap­peal of­fi­cially started again, and will al­low the Sal­va­tion Army to sup­port dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple across New Zealand this fes­tive sea­son.

Wish­ing tree co­or­di­na­tor Dawn Barnes said the Dunedin store col­lected nearly 4000 pre­sents last year, and hoped that record could be bro­ken this year.

She said more than 682,000 peo­ple were liv­ing in poverty across New Zealand, and the ap­peal was nec­es­sary to sup­port chil­dren, adults, se­niors and fam­i­lies who could not af­ford gifts at Christ­mas and be­yond.

Sal­va­tion Army Dunedin City Corps ex­ec­u­tive min­istry leader David McKen­zie said the com­mu­nity’s gen­eros­ity made a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to the lives of many Dunedin fam­i­lies.

‘‘It’s not that they don’t have any­thing de­cent to give their kids. They don’t have any­thing to give their kids.

‘‘We don’t nec­es­sar­ily see what the child’s re­ac­tion is when they get a present, but we do see what the par­ent’s re­ac­tion is when we give them a present to give to their child.

‘‘We see grate­ful­ness. Some­times there are tears.’’

The Sal­va­tion Army helps more peo­ple in De­cem­ber than in any other month.

Bills, up­com­ing back­toschool costs, and ex­tra costs of hav­ing the chil­dren at home added to ev­ery­day liv­ing ex­penses, and the fi­nan­cial pres­sure at Christ­mas in­creased dra­mat­i­cally.

Fol­low­ing sev­eral speeches at the Dunedin ap­peal launch, a cake was cut by in­ter­na­tional rally car driver Emma Gil­mour and Fair­field School pupils sang Christ­mas carols.

Otago res­i­dents can donate to the ap­peal by plac­ing a gift un­der the wish­ing tree at the Dunedin store (gifts do not need to be bought from Kmart); adding a lit­tle ex­tra cash to trans­ac­tions; dropping spare change in a col­lec­tion box at any reg­is­ter; or giv­ing on­line at kmart.co.nz/wish­ingtree.

The ap­peal runs un­til Christ­mas Eve.

PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON

Fes­tive spirit . . . Cel­e­brat­ing the launch of the 2017 Kmart Wish­ing Tree Ap­peal are (from left) Kmart em­ployee Becky Clinch, wish­ing tree co­or­di­na­tor Dawn Barnes and Fair­field School pupil Annabel Kelly (12).

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