Generosity turns family's festive despair to cheer

'Christmas spirits are a lot higher'

JENNA LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2013
Rihia-Neumann family
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: The community has banded together and offered the Rihia-Neumann family who had their Christmas presents stolen.

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In a household that was set to have its saddest Christmas ever, there are now smiles on every face.

An outpouring of Christmas spirit has swept across Hamilton and beyond following the story of a family's stolen Christmas.

Hundreds of people from every corner of New Zealand have contacted the Waikato Times to offer donations and gifts to the Rihia-Neumann family after their children's Christmas gifts were stolen on the day of their new baby's birth.

The brazen thieves took off with their new television set, their PlayStation, the meat from the freezer and all of the gifts.

But the children's sadness has turned to joy as people from as far away as Southland dug deep and offered to help.

The family has been offered cash, food, clothing, gifts for the children, and a replacement television. Their neighbours chipped in with a Christmas tree complete with decorations.

"It's definitely brightened Christmas up. Christmas spirits are a lot higher," father Joshua Neumann said.

Among those collecting for the family were staff at Hamilton company Gallagher. Corporate services executive Margaret Comer said the 462 workers would be receiving a Christmas bonus and were keen to spread the cheer with a toy and cash collection for the family.

"This family, through no fault of their own, have been left in this situation so we thought, ‘How about helping out to give them a good Christmas?'."

The Rihia-Neumann family, who moved from Whangarei to Hamilton in January so Mr Neumann could work on the installation of ultra fast broadband cabling, are overwhelmed by the community's kindness.

Peter Rihia-Neumann, 12, said the generosity of strangers made him "happy" while his older brother, Rahiri, 17, said he felt very "grateful".

"I'd just like to thank everyone for their generosity. It's just amazing," their father said.

Hamilton St Vincent de Paul general manager Mike Rolton said he read the story and just had to lend a hand.

As well as donating gifts to the family, the charity will also collect gifts from others. A bank account has been set up for cash donations.

Mr Neumann and his partner, Desma Rihia, have five children: three boys aged 17, 13 and 12, a daughter, 2, and a three-week-old boy.

Mr Rolton said though he felt incredibly bad for this family, they were not the only ones in need this Christmas.

"Christmas is a really hard time and having to buy presents is the last hurdle they have to get over." St Vincent de Paul will be dishing out about 2000 gifts along with food for Christmas to over 500 families in need this year and welcome any donations. Gifts should be marked with gender and age.

For those wishing to donate to the family, gifts can be dropped off or mailed to the St Vincent de Paul shop: 224 Commerce St, Frankton, Hamilton or donations can be made into this bank account: Account name: St Vincent de Paul Xmas Donations:

Account number: 03 1355 0607033 05

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(Put either the family name or Christmas as the reference for all transfers.)

- © Fairfax NZ News

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