Cousins helping out in return

Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013
GIVING BACK: Cousins Jess Apanui, left, and Opal Renata are grateful for the support they receive from the Henderson Salvation Army.

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Opal Renata struggled as the sole provider for her family after separating from her partner three years ago.

The mother of four sought help from the Henderson Salvation Army and receives food hampers every few months to keep on top of the expensive costs of every day living.

"My whole life changed when my partner and I separated because he was our main income provider.

"I felt like I was struggling and The Salvation Army has been amazing," the Massey woman says.

Her cousin Jess Apanui also receives the hampers every fortnight and in an effort to give back to the organisation, the pair are collecting donations for its annual Christmas street appeal next week.

The appeal runs from December 16 to 23 and money raised goes toward extra presents or food for families in need over the festive season.

Miss Renata and Miss Apanui are also among the West Auckland families benefiting from kind-hearted donations received through the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal.

Organised by Kmart and The Salvation Army, the appeal aims to supply 4000 West Auckland families with gifts to unwrap on Christmas morning.

It is in its 19th year and people can donate either wrapped or unwrapped items including food, clothes or toys under the Wishing Tree until December 24.

Henderson Kmart sales assistant Jennie Ormsby says the store has received more than 1000 donated gifts so far.

"We hear a lot about child poverty on the news and there are a lot of families that don't have the financial resources to provide Christmas to their children."

Miss Apanui, 32, also lives in Massey with her two children and says the help and support received by the organisation has been invaluable.

"Every time we need help they're always there," she says. "When no-one else can, they always pull through for us."

Miss Renata, 37, works part-time and says it's important to provide for her family.

"As a mother I like to make sure I'm providing for my family and although sometimes I feel guilty, we have to go down to The Salvation Army and we're always welcomed with a big hug and kiss," she says.

Waitakere Salvation Army operations manager Rhondda Middleton says it's heartening seeing people give back.

"It's not about people coming in and taking but about being part of a community. People want to be a part of something," she says.

The Salvation Army is looking for more volunteers to collect outside West Auckland Countdown supermarkets and shopping malls.

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Call 837 4471 to volunteer or visit to donate. Items can also be dropped at Henderson Salvation Army, 7 View Rd.

- Western Leader

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