The Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal has raised more than $15,000 for Tauranga Community Foodbank in just three weeks. And with another three weeks of the campaign to go until Christmas, foodbank chairman Mike Baker is overwhelmed at the community response.
"It's been beyond our wildest expectations," he said. "I appreciate the fact there's an awful lot of people, businesses and individuals, that are struggling out there, but the generosity of the community still comes to the fore. They are still prepared to provide us with items or give us cash."
Since the launch of the appeal three weeks ago, the Western Bay community has donated $10,570.27 in cash to the foodbank and 5,164 items of food - worth a total of $15,734.27. Each food item is being counted as $1. This week, the total was hugely boosted by a $6,000 donation by the Port of Tauranga.
Bay of Plenty Times editor Scott Inglis said the campaign had got off to a fantastic start and he hoped the donations would continue as the Christmas spirit blossomed this month.
"The people of Tauranga have really got behind this cause and clearly see the need in the community for the foodbank," he said. "Individuals, businesses and schools have all been incredibly generous."T
Tauranga City Sunrise Lions Club is backing the Appeal and will do its own can drive. The club's past president Ken Evans said when the organisation learned about the appeal, its members immediately wanted to do something to help.
"We were inspired by the Bay of Plenty Times. I thought it was absolutely wonderful that a newspaper would take that initiative. We are in the business of doing good and having fun, that's what Lions is about.
"It's Christmas time, the foodbank is a genuine need, it's local. It's a real opportunity to do something."
The club has about 30 members and meets fortnightly over breakfast. The club's can drive, planned for Saturday, December 10, will target the entire Avenues suburb, from First to Twentieth Aves. A letterbox drop the previous day will let residents know about the campaign.
"We're going to go round the streets with cars and trailers and collect as much as we can for the foodbank."
And if residents aren't home, or if they live outside the collection area, the club is happy to help - members will pick up food from anywhere on the Tauranga city side of the harbour bridge.
Photo: Tauranga City Sunrise Lions Club president Bruce Bolton and past president Ken Evans. Reproduced courtesy of the Bay of Plenty Times.