The presents are really starting to come in.
Shona Pirie, Palmerston North Kmart Wishing Tree champion and co-ordinator for this year’s annual toy appeal, is pleased with the response.
‘‘We’ve had a lot of customers come in and donate. Some have come in purposefully looking to donate gifts.
‘‘Others have seen the tree by the checkouts, have picked up the tags and then gone and found something to attach them to.’’
Pirie is aiming for a record 7000 gift donations this year, and also wants to restore Palmerston North’s pride as the top Wishing Tree in the country.
Last week the tree had attracted 1226 gifts. The national total was 6000-odd donations, meaning proportionately, Manawatu residents were giving well beyond their numbers.
The appeal had been boosted by staff at Monument Finance who contributed 101 gifts donated in place of the usual office ‘secret Santa’.
The company’s Beth Johansen said staff chose to donate to the Wishing Tree instead, because helping out the local community was more important to them. They had purposefully selected gifts that could go to all the members of a family.
A second Wishing Tree had now gone up - in the main foyer of Palmerston North Hospital.
MidCentral gift co-ordinator Sharon Pigott said there had always been a great response to
‘‘We've had a lot of customers come in and donate.’’ Shona Pirie, Kmart
this appeal from members of the public.
‘‘In past years it’s been wonderful from staff members, patients’ families, and also from people who live over the hospital side of the city. It means they don’t have to drive into town to leave a gift.’’
Pigott praised the contribution made by Spotless Services. Staff from the hospital contractors erected the tree, strung up and connected the electrics, and hung the banners.
‘‘They did all the hard work. I just co-ordinate.
‘‘We’ve helped [the Wishing Tree appeal] get to its targets in past years. We’re particularly looking for gifts for boys aged 12 to 15, and we’ve had a good response to that as well.’’ Pigott said.
The appeal closes on Christmas Eve, with the Salvation Army playing Santa by distributing the donations to local disadvantaged families.
Kmart’s Tracey Monk, Shona Pirie, Liam Dawson, Sean Pirie and Teina Epapara with some of the Wishing Tree donations so far.