Editorial: Can we fill a foodbank? Yes, we can

Workers help pack up food donated during the Christmas Collection
Workers help pack up food donated during the Christmas Collection

One of the last things Mike Brewer told me before leaving the Taranaki Daily News last week was that I would love joining the team on the annual foodbank run.

Mike, who has left Fairfax to become the new chief executive of Rhema Broadcasting Group, has always been a pretty good judge of what I will enjoy in Taranaki, and he was, as usual, on the mark this time.

I was part of one of two teams from the Daily News who pounded the streets of New Plymouth on Monday night collecting for the New Plymouth foodbank.

If you were in town on the night it was hard not to notice or hear the collectors. They came from a cross-section of the community and included emergency service staff.

The latter, it has to be said, had the unfair advantage of having sirens attached to their vehicles which announced their arrival in streets a little more dramatically than the horns on our vehicles and calls of "foodbank".

But we were heard. After a city walk which lasted more than three hours, we had filled the deck of a truck with hundreds of cans.

By the end of the night 130 volunteers had filled 270 boxes with food.

I suspect baked beans from various producers was the most common donation, but folk came out from their homes with plastic bags containing all sorts of non-perishable food.

A day earlier I had been helping at an annual dinner for the city's precious band of volunteers.

On Monday night I was reminded of the wonderful contribution our senior citizens make to the community when a hand is put in front of them.

On our section of the collection, they appeared to outnumber other age groups, and were happy to give a can or four, or more. How ironic that the elderly are among the customers served by the foodbank.

I also marvelled at the collective generosity of some streets. Take a bow, the people of Turakina St - you are a wonderful lot. I suspect our fellow collectors would put other streets forward for equal special mention.

So too would the collectors who pounded the streets in Inglewood on the same night.

The foodbank collection does bring out the best in people - and, as we have seen this year in reporting a series of burglaries at Waitara's foodbank, the worst.

After the efforts of the runners and walkers to fill 16 trucks cruising New Plymouth on Monday, Sacred Heart Girls' College and Francis Douglas Memorial College students were sorting the contributions at St Andrew's church yesterday.

In one fell swoop, the community provided about half the New Plymouth foodbank's annual requirements. And on the first Monday of December 2013, we'll be back on the streets collecting again.

Because when the foodbank calls, Taranaki really does show it is a can-do community.

Pun intended.

Roy Pilott, Editor

Taranaki Daily News