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The Tree is UP

By Pauline Stewart

Have you got your tree up yet? When are the tags going to be ready?

These are the questions that Guthrie Bowron owners, Rachael and Julian, start getting at this time of year. It’s a reminder that people are thinking about coming in and collecting a tag off the Giving by Gifting Christmas tree so they can buy a gift for someone that will appreciate a little help this year.

Now the Christmas tree is up as you can see, ready for the Mercury Bay community to drop in to the store to select a pledge off the tree and return with a gift for that person.

Beginnings: in 2014, Rachael decided it would be a great idea if people had a Christmas tree to place gifts under with the intention they be distributed to families and individuals who had lesser means to buy gifts or were on their own for Christmas. “We approached St. Andrews By The Sea, who would organise a Community Christmas Dinner and thought we could distribute the gifts with Christmas dinner. What developed was an avalanche of gifts and goodwill that required massive organisation.” They found that there were too many for the younger age groups and not so many for the teenagers or the elderly.

“Over the nine years we’ve been doing this, we have been refining the process,” says Rachael. “We started working with the Whitianga Social Services Centre, whom we were aware did food packages for families and individuals they work with. It is a pretty good system now. “We keep the family name and individual name confidential,” says Stacey Gaskell, Programme Coordinator at Whitianga Social Services. “We work with people who use our services and other charities to make our list of names. The rise in living costs has increased the amount of people who use our services.”

 

There is criteria involved in this process as Whitianga Social Services has to be sure it is a genuine situation people are experiencing. Stacey provides a family number instead of a name with the age, gender and relevant details for the tag as well as what is needed and what the person or persons would love as a gift. The number also correlates with the food packages. This is passed on to Guthrie Bowron to decorate the tree and prepare the tags, leaving space for gifts to be placed at the base of the tree. This is Stacey’s third year as Co-ordinator. “This annual project gives people relief and takes pressure off. It helps people have some joy again and it’s all done with consideration of privacy and respect.”

 

“Because it has been consistent and regular, people are becoming familiar with the tree,” says Rachael. “I love it because everyone who takes a tag is buying a gift for a local person. The tags mention the person’s gender, age, interests or something that they would find of use. You can buy knowing the gift will be a useful match, loved and appreciated. And we shouldn’t forget how good the gift of giving actually feels. The hidden rewards to volunteering time and energy or teaching the young ones to think of others and not just themselves. There have been occasions where people who have received the benefit of the Giving by Gifting Tree in the past, have come in to pick tags the following year. They had been through tough times; their situation has improved and they want to pay it forward. And it’s great to see children selecting a person to buy for and then dropping the presents back under the tree all wrapped up.”

“The food packages or hampers we put together are basically everything you need for a Christmas dinner and in addition, some basic items for the pantry,” says Stacey, “except we are not allowed to give wine.” “Come join us and share some love this year,” invites Rachael.

 

Connecting:

· North Real Estate also has a Christmas tree, and they are collecting sweets and chocolates to go with the Christmas tree gifts at GB and WSS food packages.

· Harcourts Real Estate is selling the Fruit Mince Pies made by bellyful for their Christmas’ fundraiser.

 

· Pop along to North to drop off sweets or chocolates and go to Harcourts to buy your fruit mince pies to help Bellyful. Both are in Albert Street, Whitianga.

· Food items can be dropped off at Whitianga Social Services 2 Cook Street, Whitianga.

 

Jody Costello, Rachael Lee and Stacey Gaskell are excited the tree is ready for people to come and collect a gift tag.

 |  The Informer  | 

By Pauline Stewart

Have you got your tree up yet? When are the tags going to be ready?

These are the questions that Guthrie Bowron owners, Rachael and Julian, start getting at this time of year. It’s a reminder that people are thinking about coming in and collecting a tag off the Giving by Gifting Christmas tree so they can buy a gift for someone that will appreciate a little help this year.

Now the Christmas tree is up as you can see, ready for the Mercury Bay community to drop in to the store to select a pledge off the tree and return with a gift for that person.

Beginnings: in 2014, Rachael decided it would be a great idea if people had a Christmas tree to place gifts under with the intention they be distributed to families and individuals who had lesser means to buy gifts or were on their own for Christmas. “We approached St. Andrews By The Sea, who would organise a Community Christmas Dinner and thought we could distribute the gifts with Christmas dinner. What developed was an avalanche of gifts and goodwill that required massive organisation.” They found that there were too many for the younger age groups and not so many for the teenagers or the elderly.

“Over the nine years we’ve been doing this, we have been refining the process,” says Rachael. “We started working with the Whitianga Social Services Centre, whom we were aware did food packages for families and individuals they work with. It is a pretty good system now. “We keep the family name and individual name confidential,” says Stacey Gaskell, Programme Coordinator at Whitianga Social Services. “We work with people who use our services and other charities to make our list of names. The rise in living costs has increased the amount of people who use our services.”

 

There is criteria involved in this process as Whitianga Social Services has to be sure it is a genuine situation people are experiencing. Stacey provides a family number instead of a name with the age, gender and relevant details for the tag as well as what is needed and what the person or persons would love as a gift. The number also correlates with the food packages. This is passed on to Guthrie Bowron to decorate the tree and prepare the tags, leaving space for gifts to be placed at the base of the tree. This is Stacey’s third year as Co-ordinator. “This annual project gives people relief and takes pressure off. It helps people have some joy again and it’s all done with consideration of privacy and respect.”

 

“Because it has been consistent and regular, people are becoming familiar with the tree,” says Rachael. “I love it because everyone who takes a tag is buying a gift for a local person. The tags mention the person’s gender, age, interests or something that they would find of use. You can buy knowing the gift will be a useful match, loved and appreciated. And we shouldn’t forget how good the gift of giving actually feels. The hidden rewards to volunteering time and energy or teaching the young ones to think of others and not just themselves. There have been occasions where people who have received the benefit of the Giving by Gifting Tree in the past, have come in to pick tags the following year. They had been through tough times; their situation has improved and they want to pay it forward. And it’s great to see children selecting a person to buy for and then dropping the presents back under the tree all wrapped up.”

“The food packages or hampers we put together are basically everything you need for a Christmas dinner and in addition, some basic items for the pantry,” says Stacey, “except we are not allowed to give wine.” “Come join us and share some love this year,” invites Rachael.

 

Connecting:

· North Real Estate also has a Christmas tree, and they are collecting sweets and chocolates to go with the Christmas tree gifts at GB and WSS food packages.

· Harcourts Real Estate is selling the Fruit Mince Pies made by bellyful for their Christmas’ fundraiser.

 

· Pop along to North to drop off sweets or chocolates and go to Harcourts to buy your fruit mince pies to help Bellyful. Both are in Albert Street, Whitianga.

· Food items can be dropped off at Whitianga Social Services 2 Cook Street, Whitianga.

 

Jody Costello, Rachael Lee and Stacey Gaskell are excited the tree is ready for people to come and collect a gift tag.