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A helping hand delivers a brighter Christmas

Pack the Bus in Carterton. PHOTO/FILE

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Pack the Bus has wrapped up, with 5050 toys going to children in need this Christmas, but community groups still need support heading into the holiday season.

Emerge Aotearoa housing navigator and Pack the Bus distribution facilitator Linda Voice said they collected 5050 toys, including those donated by Craggy Range, heading to 708 children catered to by agencies across Wairarapa.

“We filled the entire facility we were using with toys this year. They’ve all been distributed to local agencies.”

Voice said new connections across Wairarapa’s community agencies had been made this year, increasing to 23 agencies involved with Pack the Bus from 12 last year.

More FM’s Tom Sexton and Tranzit’s Vaea Peterson on one of their final runs for Pack the Bus. PHOTO/GRACE PRIOR

Any leftover toys were distributed to foodbanks in the region, she said.

She said although Pack the Bus had been so successful, there were still families in need.

Voice said Emerge Aotearoa was a transitional and emergency housing provider but had fully supported her in facilitating Pack the Bus.

Wairarapa Community Network and Family Violence Network manager Dannii Sargent said lots many agencies were doing great jobs this Christmas, especially in the areas of health and social support.

She said there were many community groups, like foodbanks, still in need of kai [food]. Other ways to support the community included shoebox Christmas and volunteering at your local foodbank or charity shop.

“Wairarapa always has a good community spirit. People are willing to give more.”

Sargent said lots of already vulnerable people were now isolated, mainly because of covid-19

She said being kind was incredibly important now, including being kind about people’s choices.

“Housing need is growing year on year with lack of rentals and emergency housing needs are also on the rise.

“Navigating that in the covid-19 environment is tricky.”

Sargent said some creativity in donations to agencies was helpful.

“Things like pre-paid snapper cards for buses are well received.”

“Other ways to help could be paying for fees for things like sports groups.”

Masterton Foodbank manager Jenna Matchett said some other donation ideas people could give to the most in need were fuel vouchers, cell phone top-ups, and power vouchers.

She said for some people, the worry would set in after Christmas when they were left with bills and debt to pay, as well as preparing children for the next school year.

“Donating things like swimming togs and sunscreen can really help too; it means those kids can go swimming in our rivers and public pools.”

Matchett said the Masterton Foodbank was looking for a few young, fit, fully vaccinated people to help move items from December 16 to 23.

She said the volunteers would be needed from 9.30am to about noon.

“Anyone interested in helping should contact the Masterton Foodbank.”

Voice said anyone who had done any extra fundraising should contact More FM or their local foodbank.

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