Christmas is coming and it’s time to make your ‘presents’ felt.
That’s the message from Shona Pirie, KMART Wishing Tree champion and co-ordinator for this year’s annual toy appeal.
The annual gift-giving tree with the Salvation Army opened for business today, with members of the Salvation Army Band and Christmas cake along with gift seeding contributions from pupils at College Street Normal School.
Pirie was hoping this year for a big gift bonanza to restore Palmerston North to ‘‘top of the tree’’.
For many years, the city’s Wishing Tree has been No.1 for generosity in the country. Last year, city folk contributed 4600 gifts, but that was outdone by Auckland’s Henderson store.
Coming second has only happened once before in the past 10 years when Riccarton responded after the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Pirie wants Palmerston North to reclaim the ‘Best Giving’ title.
‘‘I’m thinking really big - like setting a target of 7000 gifts this year.’’
The largest local total was set in 2013 when the appeal brought in 6649 gifts.
She’s planning on visiting local businesses and getting out to schools in the next few weeks.
‘‘I’ll be explaining what the Wishing Tree is all about, helping them understand the importance of the appeal, and encouraging them to take part.’’
New Zealand’s largest and longest running Christmas gift appeal, the trees have been contributing to Christmas cheer since 1993. Last year, the Sallies collected more than 44,000 gifts for national distribution to New Zealanders in need.
‘‘We’re particularly interested in gifts for boys aged between 7 and 13, and also gifts for mum and dad, because it is about families.’’
Palmerston North Salvation Army Corps Captain Stewart Lee said while Christmas was about people, it could be hard for children. especially when their friends were getting gifts. But it was also hard on parents who found themselves unable to provide presents.
‘‘To know that their children won’t miss out and to know that someone thought of them is a big thing for people. It’s not uncommon for people to be in tears when they receive the gifts people donate.’’
Anyone can participate by either giving a gift in store, making a cash contribution, or donating online.
KMart Wishing Tree team Tracey Monk, Shona Pirie, Liam Dawson, Sean Pirie and Teina Epapara.