Pupils donate gifts galore
The scissors and sellotape have been flying as local students wrap presents for the Papakura Courier and Salvation Army Christmas toy appeal.
Year 9 and 10 students from Rosehill College have collected more than 400 toys for the appeal, which calls for new and near-new toys to be distributed to deserving south Auckland families.
That's so many that it took them almost a full school day to wrap them - they only stopped when they ran out of paper.
The toys were collected for a competition set up by the college's junior council, which comprises two young leaders from each of the school's six houses.
Junior tutor groups were pitted against each other to collect the most toys, with the winning group getting a pizza lunch as a prize.
Junior council chairman Dylan Holmes says the competition saw a wide variety of toys flood into the school, including soft toys, books, jigsaws and babies' toys.
"On the last day someone brought in 260 Hannah Montana puzzle boxes so of course they won," he says.
The school's junior house leaders ran the competition a few years ago but it's never been this successful, the 15-year-old says. They asked everyone they knew for donations and are pleased with the results.
Rosehill College teacher Noel Kerr says the kids' toy-collecting effort is "incredible".
"They've done it with a bit of feeling because they know where they're going - we've talked about the fact that some people are not as fortunate as them," Mr Kerr says.
Salvation Army operations manager Stephen Farmer says local schools have given generously to the appeal this year.
"It's South Auckland people helping other South Auckland people, which is always nice.
"When children become involved it gives them a sense of appreciation of what they have," he says.
Hospitals, corporate groups and members of the public have also been digging deep to make the appeal a fantastic success, with donations up 15 to 20 per cent on last year, Mr Farmer says.
"It's been so good we've been able to extend the numbers we provide toys to in terms of other community organisations."
Those organisations include the likes of Plunket and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
Salvation Army officer Nicki Dutton was stunned when she saw the tower of toys the Rosehill students had organised for her to take away.