Rotorua Weekender

Fire brigade holds food drive

Firefighte­rs get behind annual Christmas appeal efforts

- Maryana Garcia

Fire truck sirens will be sounding in the streets of Mamaku this Sunday as the town’s volunteer fire brigade flashes their lights for the Rotorua Daily Post 2022 Christmas Appeal.

The food drive will collect donations for the Rotorua Salvation Army Foodbank.

“Being a firefighte­r is not all about jumping in and fighting the big orange stuff,” station officer Kirstin Johnston says. “It’s good to give time to our community and help out.”

Kirstin says the Salvation Army has a “huge job” ahead of them.

“In this day and age, everyone is struggling and if we’re all there to help each other that’s what it’s about.”

Kirstin says it is important for firefighte­rs to help lead the way in supporting the community, which had become their extended family.

“When you join a fire service you know nobody but then the station becomes your family and that family extends and extends.

“We want to show we’re willing to get out there and give back. It builds trust with the community and boosts our team morale as well.”

The Mamaku brigade has 12 personnel with a couple of new recruits “just joining up” and one operations support member.

“We’re all first responders,” Kirstin says.

“At the moment we’re nine females and three males which is a bit different from other stations.”

All 12 volunteer firefighte­rs have other jobs. Kirstin works as “the parts girl” at Hydralink.

“When the siren goes, I go. My employer allows me to go and stand in if needed,” she says.

“Sometimes you can do four hours a week, some weeks I can put 20 hours into the fire service.”

Despite their busy schedules and multiple commitment­s, Kirstin says there was “no doubt” among the firefighte­rs about giving up a Sunday afternoon for the food drive.

Kirstin says that, with the exception of 2021, the Mamaku Volunteer Fire Brigade has been running food drives to gather donations for the Christmas appeal for more than eight years.

“Before I even announced our plans for the food drive people were already coming by my desk and asking: ‘When are we doing the drive?’.”

She says it is great to see Mamaku people come out in support year after year.

“We can normally fill out the back of the ute. And the kids love the noise we make.”

The Mamaku Volunteer Fire Brigade food drive will start at 4pm on Sunday, November 20, and will cover all the streets in Mamaku.

There will also be a drop-off area set up at the time of the event at the Mamaku Fire Station.

The Rotorua Salvation Army Foodbank is seeking donations of food items or money to help them feed those in need this Christmas and beyond.

If people are not in a position to donate, offering to volunteer their time is also welcomed.

Rotorua Salvation Army Corps officer Hana Seddon previously said the appeal gave the community the opportunit­y to give practical, tangible support that could be passed on to the people who needed it the most.

“We are blessed to be at the frontline, but we can’t do it without the generosity of our community.”

The six-week Rotorua Daily Post Christmas Appeal began on Saturday, in conjunctio­n with The Hits Rotorua 97.5 and Rotorua Weekender.

 ?? Photo / Supplied ?? The Mamaku Volunteer Fire Brigade and members of the Mamaku community at the food drive in 2020.
Photo / Supplied The Mamaku Volunteer Fire Brigade and members of the Mamaku community at the food drive in 2020.

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