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Feeding the vulnerable

Volunteers packed out the Masterton Fire Station on Wednesday. PHOTOS/KAREN COLTMAN

More than 150 volunteers assembled at the Masterton Fire Station at 5.30pm on Wednesday night, ready to head out into the rain and fill 400 banana boxes with donated food for the annual foodbank collection. KAREN COLTMAN reports.
The Long family left to right: Rachelle Long, David Long, Ashleigh Bush with son Lucus-James Bush, and Marie Long.

All over Wairarapa, emergency services blasted their sirens to alert residents that it was time to drop their food donations into the trucks and trailers for the volunteers to give to the food banks.

The idea of sounding the sirens and collecting food in this way was started 20 years ago by ambulance paramedics, including current Wellington Free Ambulance paramedic David Long, and South Masterton Rotary.

The then fire chief was approached for help and said it was a great idea and it had been running ever since. Three generations from the Long family went out on the collection this week and the youngest participant was 11-month-old Lucas-James Bush.

“We made a lot of noise 20 years ago to get attention and it worked and so we kept doing it,” Long said.

“Now, we have people coming to help from the colleges and they love to see the generosity of people giving to people that need it.

“It is always wonderful to see so much given by people who actually don’t have a lot themselves but have said to me over the years that they want to give back because they have been helped before,” Long said.

This year, the Cole St Kohanga Reo O Ngati Hamua had so much food to give they lined it up on their fence.

Marlene Harris with her grandchild Te Atarangi Nia Nia putting the cans out for Wednesday night’s food collection.

Lead teacher Marlene Harris said she put the newsletter out on Monday about the idea of putting food at the gate, and the food had just kept coming.

She received cans of meat, baked beans and spaghetti, jams, pasta, and various other items.

“The neighbours came and asked if they could add their donations to the fence and more came in last night,” Harris said.

“It is neat when some of our whanau don’t have much to give but have been helped and donated this year what they could.”

Foodbank co-ordinators said the annual appeal and donations helped them to get the cupboards stocked up before Christmas and they relied on the generous giving each year.

Masterton Foodbank co-ordinator Lyn Tankersley said demand for foodbank support had reached a record high this year.

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