The gift of giving
More than 3000 West Auckland children won't be getting Christmas presents this year without help from the community.
The Henderson Salvation Army is reaching out for assistance to make Christmas merry for families that need help by using the Kmart Wishing Tree appeal.
The national appeal was launched in Henderson on Friday with performances by Henderson Intemediate School's choir and Swanson Primary School's kapa haka group.
It is run through Kmart stores and it is hoped to collect more than 40,000 gifts for underprivileged children nationwide.
Henderson Salvation Army major Neil Waugh says this year's goal for West Auckland is more ambitious than before.
''Last year our goal was to get over 2500 presents, this year we want to get more than 3000.
''Mr Waugh says the charity has been busy assisting families going through difficult financial and social situations.
''I think it's fair to say there's been a rise in the number of people taking care of the budgeting service -people are trying to manage with less.''
He says the great part about the appeal is all the presents donated by people will be delivered to families in the West.
Mr Waugh says the charity also works along side agencies including the Dayspring Trust, Barnardos and the McLaren Park and Henderson South Initiative.
''There are some last minute families who come to us after tragedy has struck around the festive season. Last year a family lost everything in a fire,'' Mr Waugh says.
Presents are also delivered to Starship Hospital.
''Some children are facing some pretty traumatic stuff like cancer, so it's great to help put a smile on their faces.
''The charity is collecting food to distribute to families and individuals as well as gifts for children up to the age of 18.
''We have Christmas hampers for families to enjoy on Christmas Day which is one of our food parcels along with some treats that make it special, and we do meals on the street for the homeless.
''A lot of people leave their Christmas shopping until the last minute but presents for the appeal should be donated early to allow enough time for them to be delivered. Henderson Salvation Army operations manager Rhondda Middleton says the charity is after new goods to give as presents.
''It doesn't make children feel special getting someone else's secondhand teddy bear so we don't give out used gifts.
''Mrs Middleton says teenagers are often forgotten during the appeal and she encourages people to donate vouchers for them.
''We give out gifts to children up to the age of 18 and we find that vouchers are perfect for them.
''Donations to the Christmas Appeal can be placed at the Wishing Tree in Kmart Henderson or taken to the Salvation Army store on Trading Place at the Faith Factory on View Rd, Henderson. Food donations can be made in the Salvation Army boxes at supermarkets or to the Faith Factory.
Monetary donations are tax deductible and should be taken to the Faith Factory.
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