A Christmas bonus for military staff
They might not know it yet but Christmas came a little closer on Thursday for the country’s 300 military personnel serving overseas.
At little more than an hour, the Royal Returned and Services Association’s Christmas Gift Parcel project went off with suitable miliary precision at the New Zealand Defence Force sports complex, opposite the Trentham military base.
RSA officials and staff, defence personnel, primary school children and representatives from Foodstuffs and Z Energy, the main sponsors, were all on hand and helping.
Their work will deliver a real taste of a Kiwi Christmas to every soldier, sailor and airman and woman overseas.
Much-loved Kiwi treats in each 35-item package included Marmite, peanut slabs, Anzac biscuits, onion soup, chewing gum, and lollies and even some more practical items.
RSA national president B J Clark said the Christmas project had been operating for 76 years.
It had evolved into a real community effort which, with more than $10,000 of goods donated, was cost-neutral for the RSA.
’’It’s a wonderful collaboration. There’s some 300-plus serving overseas at Christmas and so each one of them, it doesn’t matter where they are in the world, will receive one of our parcels.’’
Each parcel also contains a Christmas card, designed by primary school children and coming with their hand-written good wishes.
‘‘They’ve got some wonderful messages in there,’’ Clark said.
‘‘You can imagine some service personnel separated from their families and there’s this card with a wonderful message.
‘‘I’m sure there will be a wet eye or two when they do that.’’
‘‘We really want the men and women overseas to know we appreciate their work a lot,’’ Mt Cook Year 7 school student Le’aniva So’a said.
Joint Forces Brigadier Mike Shapland was one of the day’s packers.
‘‘The value of a a soup packet might only be $1.99 but you couldn’t put a price on this.’’
NZ Defence Force overseas are in: Afghanistan, Antarctica, the Middle East,
Mt Cook primary school students Le’aniva So’a, left, and Eddie Nhim pack the community gift parcels with the RSA’s Rochelle Griffin while the association’s national president BJ Clark looks on. Below, some of the goodies.