Accounting firm spreads Christmas cheer

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012
Neil McAra and Peter Swain
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
TIME TO HELP: WHK Southland managing principal Neil McAra, left, and Southland food bank charitable trust chairman Peter Swain get ready for the Christmas rush.

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WHK offices in Southland, Otago and the Queenstown Lakes District will donate $16,500 to food banks in the region instead of giving clients Christmas gifts.

WHK Southland managing principal Neil McAra said the accounting company's clients were happy to support the initiative, which was now in its fifth year.

Christmas was a time to help Southlanders in need, who were less fortunate than others, he said.

WHK donated the value of client gifts, plus extra cash to food banks.

"WHK and its clients see this as a way of supporting and giving back to the community we are involved with, especially in these difficult financial times," said.

He said food banks had said they were delighted with the donations because they were getting early requests for food parcels.

Southland food bank charitable trust chairman Peter Swain said the donation of $3500 to his food bank would take the pressure off.

In September the food bank supplied 162 parcels to 486 people and during October, it gave out 182 parcels to 546 people.

Last December the food bank gave out 182 parcels to feed 546 people. Mr Swain expected to see the same pattern this Christmas.

Each parcel cost about $130 to put together, he said.

"Each month we have to buy $3000 more than the canned food donated, to buy perishable food such as meat, which is expensive."

Mr Swain said there was a high demand for food parcels at Christmas and all food banks in the region were experiencing some surge in demand.

He urged people to look out for food bank baskets in supermarkets and make a donation coming up to Christmas.

Winton Lets Link Food Bank (Salvation Army Winton) were given a donation of $500.

Volunteer Ken Galt said about 20 food parcels were given out each month in Winton. Extra Christmas cheer parcels were also given to help struggling families.

The WHK donation would help with the yearly costs, he said.

Alexandra Salvation Army community ministry support worker Deidre Snodgrass said the army was grateful for the $1000.

Last Christmas 94 parcels were given out around Alexandra, Ranfurly, Cromwell and Roxburgh.

WHK donated $500 to Wanaka Alpine Community Development Trust.

Heartland Services co-ordinator Barbara Jungen is based at the trust. "The money will go towards meat, fruit and vegetates for the food parcels and Christmas hampers," she said.

There were many families in the Wanaka region in need. Last year the trust gave out 60 Christmas hampers and food for a Christmas meal, she said.

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Other WHK donations were made to Queenstown Salvation Army ($2000), Gore Salvation Army ($500), Fiordland Community Care Fund ($500), Dunedin Anglican Family Care food bank ($4000), Mosgiel food bank ($1000), Milton Taieri Christian Care Trust ($1000) and Oamaru Churches food bank ($2000).

- The Southland Times

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