'Giving back' day proves festive hit

RYAN EVANS
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2012
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CAMERON BURNELL
Taranaki Cathedral Dean Jamie Allen with gifts donated in the Boxing Day Give Something back Appeal.

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A modern-day take on the original traditions of Boxing Day has been a roaring success.

While thousands of people hit the retailers and shopping malls for the post-Christmas splash out, many others went instead to Taranaki Cathedral, bearing gifts for New Plymouth's less fortunate.

The Give Something Back scheme was set up by Dean Jamie Allen and asked people to bring in unwanted gifts, or something bought especially, to dish out to people in need.

It is a throwback to the origins of Boxing Day, when the wealthy would box up their leftovers and distribute them to the poor.

Unsure of how successful the idea would be, Mr Allen knew it was a winner when he arrived at St Mary's at 9am to find a queue waiting for him.

By midday there was a huge pile of gifts sitting under the cathedral's tree as a constant stream of givers walked through the doors.

"One little 4-year-old boy had heard about it and gone out to The Warehouse to get something so another little kid would have a good Christmas.

"Other children have been selecting one of their gifts to give away. It's most moving to see people giving something extra special to somebody outside their own families and spread the Christmas joy to families they've never met.

"It says a lot about the people of New Plymouth, there's a lot of love in this city."

The gifts, included toys, games, household goods, food and chocolates, among many other items.

"We're often in contact with families in crisis through the programmes we run.

"We will have some great and practical gifts to give them," Mr Allen said.

The scheme was run in conjunction with Chaos Cafe, which donated 300 free coffees to people bringing in gifts.

Mr Allen said he was rapt with the cafe's support.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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