Kirsty Ryan, Kevin Conroy, Yvonne O’Dowd, Glenda Seville, and Anna Keane. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Lisa Urbani

Wairarapa Building Society has been in the region for 150 years and survived many tough economic times.

Paul Bywater, the CEO, has a great sense of humour and a heart of gold, when he decided to launch a cheeky campaign called “Stuff the Banks” – a tongue-in-cheek initiative to support the five foodbanks in Wairarapa.

Carterton’s Foodbank co-ordinator Yvonne O’Dowd and committee member Kevin Conroy were “blown away” by their very generous donation of food and other items, particularly hygiene products such as toilet paper and women’s personal supplies, and nappies, delivered personally by the WBS.

May was a hard month for the Carterton Foodbank as they packed 71 boxes for people in need, whereas during May of the previous year, they only packed 36 parcels.

They fear that difficult times lie ahead for many families as the economic reality of the covid-19 pandemic hits home.

The extra supplies will enable them to be more generous with the food parcels, and maybe make them last a bit longer.

They also received two $1000 gift cards from another donor, and had been collecting three boxes of food donations from the supermarket each day.

“All around, the sense of community coming together is wonderful”, Yvonne said.

The Carterton New World had allowed her to shop earlier than other patrons to make her work easier, and had always been very helpful and community-minded.

Anna Keane and Kirsty Ryan from WBS said once they had identified the needs of the different foodbanks, the supermarkets they had dealt with, had been incredibly supportive in offering discounts.

These included Pak’n Save in Masterton, New World, FreshChoice, SuperValue and P and K in Martinborough.

The Carterton District Council was represented by communications and engagement co-ordinator Elisa Vorster, who said, “from the council’s perspective, the foodbank plays a crucial role in the community, and it is fantastic to see their hard work recognised”.

She hoped that those in need would not be afraid to ask for help and reminded locals that they could nominate someone in need if necessary, and to check on their neighbours.

Anna Keane of the WBS said it had been a “privilege” to help the foodbanks, and her colleague Kirsty Ryan said they wanted to encourage other businesses to donate too, since they feared a second wave of need might be coming.

Praising the CDC support, Yvonne O’Dowd, mentioned how Mayor Greg Lang would visit to get updates, and how the previous mayor, and volunteer fireman John Booth, delivered parcels using the fire brigade
van, on the foodbank’s busiest day.

The CDC provided their premises free of charge as well as the power needed to run the foodbank, and Wai Waste was also acknowledged for their assistance in picking up food from the supermarkets for
the foodbanks.

“Community helping community” was how this great effort was described.