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Gifting Christmas for those in need


19 MF-XmasgivingWith sparkling tinsel, frantic shopping sales, Santa’s ‘ho ho-ing’ and Christmas tunes reminding us all to be joyful, the big day in December is now only 20 sleeps away!

However it is well known that the ‘time to be jolly’ can be a hard thing to find for some people, who struggle to stock even the basic pantry items. For many in our society, the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ can feel like just an extra burden to bear.

Recently appointed Otamatea Ward Councillor, Libby Jones, says there are many people struggling in Kaipara District.

“Debt is a problem for many families and individuals which makes it very difficult to be able to get ahead even if they are in work,” she says. “The pressure of finding extra funds for Christmas just adds to the load.”

Other factors like family violence, alcohol and drug issues also contribute to compound financial stress which occurs in all communities, she says.

Treasurer for local services Tamatea Community Trust Mangawhai (TCTM), Isabel Hollis, says she has even heard of some people sleeping in their cars at night parked at Mangawhai Domain.

“Poverty is here,” she says. “We’ve already been giving food parcels out to young families… I sorted a parcel just recently for a solo parent with three small children who had no money to buy formula, nappies or food.”

However in true Christmas spirit, help is at hand for people who are anticipating a strain with the oncoming festive season.

Located throughout Mangawhai shops including Fresh, Mangawhai Gas station and Four Squares, brightly coloured boxes can be found for people to donate non-perishable food items for ‘Aroha baskets’, TCTM Secretary Sue Poynter says.

“We’re asking for basic food items like flour, sugar, tea etc and then we will top up each basket with fresh fruit, vegetables and a chicken for a Christmas dinner,” she says.

Members of a local Christian organisation say they generally gift over 50 Christmas parcels every festive season to people in Mangawhai and surrounding areas and have already placed orders for this year.

“It is great when you can help someone that genuinely needs it,” a spokesperson says. “Or bring some joy to a family that has had a tough year.”

Referrals for the food parcels from both organisations are received from a variety of places including schools, social agencies and local police.

Local social media is also another place where people can give and receive. Mangawhai’s Helping Hands Facebook page founder, Suzie Rogers, says the site, based on the ‘pay it forward’ philosophy of kindness and the art of giving, has showed a recent increase in subscribers gifting items. Several users have already designed special Christmas gifts to give away for those in need.

“I guess people are making way for new things and passing along what they no longer need,” she says. “It’s really wonderful… about caring for others, expressions of love through good deeds and sharing what we have, no matter how great or small.”

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