US couple make food-bank donation 14 years after visit

A United States couple have donated $300 to the Picton Food Bank after reading about it on the Marlborough Express Facebook page more than a decade after visiting the region.

Diana and John Batson, of Atlanta in Georgia, wired the money via Western Union to Picton Food Bank co-ordinator Lynette Cook in September after reading about the food bank's need for more supplies in a story posted on the Express Facebook page in early July.

Mrs Batson struck up a friendship with Mrs Cook following a series of emails and phone calls sparked by her desire to help the wider Picton community.

Mrs Cook said the donation was greatly appreciated and the pair became friends over "lovely chats on the phone".

"She's a Christian like myself and that came through very strong.

"She said she loved the article about the work and wanted to help. From that, she chose to donate."

The women have never met but shared a strong volunteer background, as Mrs Batson volunteers at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

"They're certainly not wealthy people, they're just an average American family."

The donation was generous and the food bank had never received so much money from someone who lived so far away, Mrs Cook said.

Though she did not plan to visit Atlanta, Mrs Cook hoped to keep in touch with the Batsons.

In emails to Mrs Cook, Mrs Batson said she "fell in love" with Marlborough when she and her husband visited New Zealand on holiday for a month in 1998.

The friendliness of the people had "touched their souls" and the couple hoped to return in a few years.

Mrs Batson took an active approach after reading the Express story, which was about the food bank needing more donations.

The Picton Food Bank's annual food drive will be held on November 26, with assistance from the Picton Volunteer Fire Brigade.

The Marlborough Express