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Need is outstripping the goodwill

Kate Ferris organises gifts of groceries. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

It’s a gift with impact – food, delivered when and where it’s needed most.

Take the story of a woman who received a bag of groceries, but couldn’t understand why anyone would give her something for nothing.

“She tried to just take one thing from the package,” says Kate Ferris of Curate Church, which is once again running its Gift of Groceries initiative this Christmas. “But she was blown away when it was explained it was all for her.”

That’s the kind of impact Curate Church is talking about.

Then there was the surprise and deep appreciation of a single mum waiting to be treated for blood cancer when she received her food parcel. “She can’t work, and has her two boys with special needs at home with her every day,” says Kate.

There’s the whanau living in a caravan at Welcome Bay. “They were over the moon with their delivery,” says Kate. “They were going through a tough time just thinking about Christmas. They were starting to give up.”

A Gift of Groceries, and the giving and receiving of love and hospitality, made all the difference.

The initiative is happening again this Christmas, with over 1200 bags of groceries and 800 boxes of produce to be delivered to individuals through organisations such as Homes of Hope, Oranga Tamariki, Plunket, Tauranga Hospital, Women’s Refuge and the police.

This will be its fourth year in the Tauranga and Mount Maunganui communities.

“The passion and heart of all those involved continues to grow with the project. And it’s just as well too,” says Gift of Groceries coordinator Kate, “because the need seems to be outgrowing the supply in our communities.”

While 2000 food parcels won’t help everyone, every year Curate Church is inundated with heart-warming stories about how the simple gift of groceries can affect the lives of people who really need them.

“Like the 99-year-old kuia who lives alone, has no immediate whanau and was so appreciative,” says Kate, “and the reaction of a solo father with his three children and mokopuna.”

When he received his hamper, he was in total shock and started crying. He’d received a bill which meant things were going to be tough. “He was really grateful.”

And then there are the bulk deliveries. Helen Mason and Sally Webb, from the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, say Christmas is a time of many acts of kindness and generosity, and they witnessed one first hand with the issuing of 150 hampers to patients.

“This is the third year the Curate Church has generously given Christmas hampers to our patients in the outpatient clinics and emergency department, as well as the renal unit and cancer centre. They were gratefully received with tears from some of the recipients, who were in great need.”

The large bags and boxes are brimming with both fresh and packaged foods, and importance is placed on the mix of nutritional foods, with a few Christmas treats thrown in. Each bag and box is valued at about $70, but costs only $40 thanks to the generosity of project partners New World Mount Maunganui and Kiwi Larder. 

Gift of Groceries has traditionally been made possible by the generosity of the Curate community and others who have heard about the project and wanted to donate the cost of a bag or a box. But there’s a growing community need for food parcels, and Curate could use extra support. 

“We are appealing to the business community to get behind this project and help us reach our goal,” says Curate’s Rebecca Tereu.

“Imagine the good we can do together if we all contributed what we could? It’s easily achievable and the lives we would help impact together is significant.

“It’s a chance for us to make a real difference in a no-strings-attached gift to our community.”

If you would like to sponsor a bag, or you are a business and would like to help fund the Gift of Groceries project, please contact Curate Church via: curatechurch.com/giftofgroceries

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