Christ­mas spirit

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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.

PHOTO: DAVID UN­WIN/FAIRFAX NZ.

Kmart’s Tracey Monk, Shona Pirie, Liam Daw­son, Sean Pirie and Teina Epa­para with some of the Wish­ing Tree do­na­tions so far.

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