Festive generosity overwhelms family

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013
One of the 146 Invercargill children, who received a Christmas gift through the Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family programme, plays with her favourite present.
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

TOY LOVE: One of the 146 Invercargill children, who received a Christmas gift through the Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family programme, plays with her favourite present.

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Planning is already under way for this year's Adopt-A-Family programme after the Salvation Army labelled the first a huge success.

The Salvation Army Invercargill Community Ministries last year introduced the programme, which gave businesses and individuals a chance to sponsor a family during Christmas.

Hamper recipients were identified by Salvation Army staff and matched with volunteer sponsors. The recipients - 63 families and 146 children - were given hampers filled with food and gifts.

Salvation Army food bank co-ordinator Brenda King said she was blown away by the desire of the community to help.

Recipients' reactions were tearful and overwhelming, she said.

Donated gifts included bicycles, a baby stroller, a camera, scrapbook supplies and a basketball hoop, she said.

The programme was a success and would be run again this year.

Among the recipients were a struggling mother and her four children. The woman said her family had planned to forgo Christmas but were overwhelmed when they received a hamper.

The hamper included a Christmas tree, water slide, flying alarm clock, play dough and a Barbie doll, which her youngest child had since carted everywhere, she said.

She said the hamper "made" their Christmas and the tree had started a new tradition.

It had brought the family closer together and every year they planned to sit down together and make decorations for it.

The "amazing" food given to them was a blessing after their home was burgled in November and all the food taken from the freezer, she said.

"It made Christmas extra special . . . I don't think we would have celebrated Christmas. It would have been just another day.

"It was just overwhelming."

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