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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Local charity helps spread gifts of warmth

With an early chill in the air, and rising living costs still looming large, a Wairarapa charitable organisation is appealing to the community to “go through their wardrobes” to help spread warmth to local whānau.

Wairarapa Winter Jackets [WWJ] distributes winter clothing, primarily jackets and coats, to families in need throughout the region. The initiative, operating from the Masterton Plunket Clinic, has been inundated with support since it started in 2019, with donations flooding in from businesses, schools and the wider community.

This season, thanks to a particularly cool autumn and families struggling with escalating household expenses, demand is beginning to outstrip supply, WWJ coordinator Liz Polley said.

Polley said WWJ had received an influx of enquiries since the weather began to turn last month: Both through WWJ’s Facebook page and at the Masterton Foodbank, which has its own rack of WWJ clothing people can collect.

And with public sector job cuts sure to impact regional Aotearoa, Polley estimates need will only increase – and welcomes any warm, good quality donations the community can offer.

It’s just started to get colder, and we’re already starting to run low,” she said.

“The foodbank started putting out jackets once the weather started going off, and they’re clearing out faster than they can be restocked. I picked up a donation of three big bags from the library last week, and they’ve all gone.

“A lot of people are finding it really hard to get by. The cost of living is still high, there’s been all the job cuts, and job security just isn’t great. So, we’re hoping WWJ can be sustained, and people can through their wardrobes for us this winter and help keep kids warm.”

Polley said WWJ accepts puffers, heavy coats, or rainwear, provided they’re clean and in good condition.

Clothing can be delivered to the Plunket Clinic or various drop-off points throughout Wairarapa, including Therapy Boutique in Kuripuni, The Offering in Greytown, the Featherston Community Centre [FCC], and the libraries in each of the five towns.

People can request a jacket by messaging WWJ’s Facebook page, and can collect it from the Plunket Clinic – though contactless delivery or a pick-up can be arranged.

Polley said WWJ has had “great support” from the Masterton Foodbank and FCC, which both regularly display jackets – on racks made by the local Menz Sheds – for families to collect, and from Therapy Boutique, which has donated several items.

Polley said her role with WWJ has brought real rewards – which her four children have got to witness.

“People ask me why I do this, when I’m already so busy. But I get so much out of it, and my kids get to see that.

“My kids know that something as basic as a coat can make a huge difference to someone’s life, and that every child deserves a warm jacket to walk to school in. So, if you can do something to help make that happen, why wouldn’t you?”

For more information, message the Wairarapa Winter Jackets Facebook page, or contact the Masterton Plunket Clinic on 0800 184 803.

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

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