Donations give youngsters a chance

Nelsonians are being invited to "donate with their stomachs" in a fundraising campaign to help a mentoring organisation.

Shoppers at Fresh Choice Nelson in Collingwood St are invited to buy six Nelson region products, from Pic's Really Good Peanut Butter to Stoke beer, with a portion of each sale going towards the Nelson branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The Rotary Club of Wakatu president-elect, Sean Thomas, sits on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Zealand national board and said the club's fundraising support for the group was a no-brainer.

Mr Thomas said the money raised, expected to be about $3000 to $4000, would go towards equipment for mentors to use with the young people they help.

Fresh Choice Nelson had also committed to donating $1000 to the organisation. People were invited to enter a prize draw for free and make donations on their way out of the supermarket.

Last year, a similar Rotary Club of Wakatu fundraiser collected $6254 for a new ambulance for St John.

Mr Thomas is a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor of a 9-year-old and said, as a father of two daughters, it was great to have a young lad with whom he could do some projects.

His last mentee was with him for seven years. He was now 21 and off to the University of Canterbury to study engineering, which may have been inspired by the rockets, boat and electric bicycle they made together.

Fresh Choice Nelson owner Mark A'Court said last year's fundraiser for St John was a success, so he was keen to do it again.

Mr A'Court said the suppliers were easy to deal with "and they were all on board pretty quickly. We're hoping to expand the number of suppliers next year".

Big Brothers Big Sisters International chief operations officer Kitty Balsley was in Nelson for the campaign launch this week.

Big Brothers Big Sisters New Zealand was started by Nelson man and national director Dave Marshall 14 years ago, and there are now 15 programmes nationwide.

Ms Balsley said Big Brothers Big Sisters International had matched children with mentors in 11 countries outside of the United States, and she was thrilled to see how many committed people were delivering a quality service here.

She said fundraising was "critical" for the organisation, which relied on goodwill from local governments and communities.

Mr Marshall said it was "good to know that what we're doing here aligns beautifully with what happens in Israel, Australia, Ireland and Canada. It's the same kind of young people with the same kind of potential getting the same kind of quality service."

The Nelson Mail