Community effort spreads festive cheer

'We'll buy the present, you pay the power bill'

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 08:01 20/12/2013
 Jill Knight
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
TIME FOR GIVING: Major Jill Knight of the Nelson Salvation Army with donated Christmas presents under a Christmas tree at the Nelson Mail office in Bridge St.

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Delivering the gift of happiness at Christmas time is the ‘‘best job in the world’’, reckons Major Jill Knight of the Salvation Army.

Every year around this time Mrs Knight becomes a ‘‘Christmas fairy’’, gathering donated presents and delivering them to deserving families.

Picking up the haul from under the Nelson Mail Christmas tree yesterday, Mrs Knight said the quality of gifts showed that Nelson and Tasman people truly cared about others in their regions.

‘‘The community is listening to what we are asking for, sports gear and things like that. Things that families can do together, active stuff.

‘‘We are getting scooters in the box, we got paddling pools. A good ball alone is $30.

‘‘I really appreciate the heart of the people who are buying these things. They are really thinking about the kids. Some have put little notes with them and we really appreciate that sentiment, it’s really really awesome.’’

Mrs Knight said there were many people out there who relied on donated gifts to fill blank spaces beneath their Christmas trees, as there was not enough cash in the household to prioritise presents above everyday expenses.

‘‘Part of our mantra this year has been, ‘we will buy the present, you pay the power bill’,’’ Mrs Knight said.

‘‘But we are very strong in letting them know that we represent the community – that Salvation Army hasn’t gone out and got these presents, but the community has brought them in because they care about these people.’’

‘‘People who come along and get this help for the first time are amazed. They are amazed they can get a gift, but also that it is something of quality.

‘‘We get great feedback from [social] agencies about what a difference it makes for people. It’s just absolutely amazing.’’

Although it was the ‘‘best job’’ to give people gifts and see the appreciation light up their faces, Christmas didn’t need to be about present-giving at all, Mrs Knight said.

‘‘It’s about getting together with family, it’s the feeling, and the good things.

‘‘It can be quite a stressful time if you believe the hype that says for a succesful Christmas you need to have this stuff, and that. Actually, you just need a friend or two.’’

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