Rotorua Weekender

Time to fill the bus for a good cause

Collecting for Rotorua Salvation Army foodbank

- Shauni James

The wheels on a bus will go round and round Rotorua next week, as the community helps to fill it up with nonperisha­ble goods for the Rotorua Salvation Army foodbank.

This is the eighth year of Fill the Bus, which will be taking place on Wednesday.

It is a day full of action and generosity as schools, ECES, businesses and public stops are visited by the team to pick up donations for the Rotorua Daily Post Christmas Appeal.

The Hits Rotorua presenter Paul Hickey will be on the bus all day from 7am until 6pm, and will be doing his radio show live from 9am to 3pm, chatting locals who make donations.

He says, “I just love seeing the community doing their bit to help make a difference for other locals.”

Paul says he is delighted to see so much support for this year’s Fill the Bus. “We have more schools and ECES than ever before, which will make for a busy day and quick stops, but everybody is understand­ing because of what the end goal achieves.

“While the schools are major contributo­rs as large groups, we want to give everybody the chance to donate and help fill the bus. So, those early morning, lunchtime, and after school periods are important parts of the day as well.”

Paul has previously said that over the past seven years Fill the Bus has collected more than $85,000 worth of food for the cause, and the aim this year is to crack the $100,000 mark.

Last year, the community donated 6597 cans and food items valued at $13,194 through the Fill the Bus campaign.

Westbrook School principal Colin Watkins says need and demand has never been greater, and Fill the Bus was a way the school could help.

“A lot of families struggle at this time of year, and with the economy the way it is right now and the lingering effects of illnesses like Covid, it has had an effect on people’s income.”

He says a lot of people lost hours of work, and they have seen families that have never struggled before starting to.

Anything the school can behind to help out, it would, he says.

Colin also says the kids love it when the bus turns up to their school, with fanfare and a bit of hype as it arrives adding to the excitement for the kids.

Selwyn School deputy principal Merenia Gotz says the school takes part in Fill the Bus because it wants to try to make a difference to vulnerable families, of which the school has some of its own.

She says they have a great, supportive school community and the children will be excited when the bus wheels along to the grounds.

“We will get a lot of kids out to be part of it, and it will be really exciting for them to pass over all the kai and items our whānau have generously donated.”

Scion will be joining in the action, and chief executive Dr Julian Elder says they are thrilled to be supporting this year’s Fill the Bus.

“The Salvation Army foodbank is a fantastic cause to support. The true spirit of Christmas is all about giving and our staff are looking forward to donating food and essential household items to help make this busy time of year a little bit easier for whānau and families.

“We know a lot of people have been finding it difficult to make ends meet this year and the demands of Christmas can create extra pressure.

“Our team in Rotorua have been busy stockpilin­g goods and we can’t wait for the bus to roll up to Te Whare Nui o Tuteata on December 7 so we can join in the festivitie­s.”

The Rotorua Daily Post Christmas Appeal is a six-week appeal, run in conjunctio­n with the Rotorua Weekender and The Hits Rotorua 97.5FM, and is calling for people to donate what money or food items they can afford to the foodbank ahead of Christmas this year.

While food and money is welcomed, anyone wanting to help but struggling with this can consider donating their time.

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 ?? Photo / Andrew Warner Photo / Samantha Carter ?? Motion Entertainm­ent staff with The Hits presenter Paul Hickey and Salvation Army staff last year.
Countdown Fairy Springs will be one of the public stops again for Fill the Bus.
Photo / Andrew Warner Photo / Samantha Carter Motion Entertainm­ent staff with The Hits presenter Paul Hickey and Salvation Army staff last year. Countdown Fairy Springs will be one of the public stops again for Fill the Bus.

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