Christmas from the Heart
Throughout the first Covid lockdown, the word ‘unprecedented’ was often used to describe the level of need faced by many whānau in our community; we never anticipated that, a year later, the need would be even greater.
The demand for food support over Christmas 2021 was impacted hugely by ongoing Covid disruptions and the associated financial and cost-of-living challenges. The result for many whānau was that any joyous family gathering over Christmas was put way out of reach.
Christmas From The Heart 2021 – a new name for an event that was in its third year – ran at our Glendale Road, Glen Eden site over seven weekdays (Tuesday 14 December – Wednesday 22 December) in collaboration with Auckland City Mission and Glen Eden Baptist Church (GEBC)
Whānau requiring support phoned in to preregister and were allocated a specified day and time for collecting their parcel, which they picked up, under strict Covid protocols, from the GEBC carpark. Of significance is the number of people who spoke of their embarrassment in having to access food support for the first time in their lives as the result of job losses or decreased incomes due to the ramifications of Covid.
Christmas parcels contained essential food to get through Christmas, plus Christmas food enabling them to share a special Christmas family meal and, where appropriate, gifts for children. As part of the strategy of encouraging a fun family Christmas Day and maintaining whānau dignity, gifts were supplied unwrapped but with wrapping paper. This gave parents and guardians the joy of wrapping their children’s presents themselves.
This year, as part of Christmas From The Heart, whānau who booked in for a food and gift box had the option of being assessed by WINZ for a Special Needs Grant. The fact that almost two-thirds of whānau took up this offer shows the significant level of current need in our community.
Of those receiving food support, 30% were already connected to a Visionwest support service, 10% expressed a need to connect with the Housing Service and 7% asked for help from Money Mentors with their personal finances.
Thank you to all our volunteers, sponsors and donors who made this such a worthwhile event.