Spreading Christmas Cheer

Spreading Christmas Cheer
20 December 2021

The Kindred Family Services’ team worked as hard as Santa’s elves over November and early December, co-ordinating its annual Christmas Appeal, to ensure Christmas came to those might otherwise have missed out.
Executive Director, the aptly named, Ana Christmas, says being able to rally the community’s efforts to support those in need has been a humbling experience, especially with over double the number of deserving families on the list than last year.
“It has been a real privilege to co-ordinate this effort and see the community step up to help those who have shouldered the burden of lockdowns more than most,” she says.
158 families received support from Taupaki to South Head, including those in Riverhead, Waimauku, Huapai, Muriwai, Woodhill, Helensville and Parakai. They included 206 adults and 266 children and teenagers.
The reason for their need is varied. Some are in financial hardship after job losses, some are suffering anxiety or depression, some are living with family violence, and some have suffered the loss of a loved one. There are also grandparents raising grandchildren and whânau who have had more mouths to feed as people moved home during lockdown.
The recipients are clients of Kindred Family Services, Outwest Youth, Parent Aid Northwest and Te Ha Oranga. Other families were nominated by local schools.
“By and large these are people who are doing their best to get by at a pretty tough time,” says Ana Christmas. “By offering this support, it’s an acknowledgement that they’re seen, that they’re cared for and that they’re recognised for the hard work they’re doing to push through despite this year’s many obstacles.”
Kindred Family Services pulled together resources including 25 Christmas Hampers made by Kumeu Rotary and 45 Christmas Boxes organised through Helensville Police.
Its online Christmas Appeal raised $4000 which, along with funds from the Ministry for Social Development to support the community through COVID were used to buy gift vouchers from local businesses.
Ana Christmas says this year’s Christmas Appeal was different than past years’ because health and safety concerns around COVID-19 meant physical donations weren’t appropriate.
“But the flip side of that is that because we received such generous financial support from donors and from the Ministry for Social Development, we were able to buy vouchers from local businesses who have had such a tough year and pay forward some of the support we’ve been fortunate to receive from them over the years.” She adds the other win is that parents and caregivers will get the pleasure of shopping for gifts for their own loved ones, “and that’s an experience everyone deserves to enjoy at this time of year.”

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