The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Southland

By Petrina Wright | Posted: Wednesday February 1, 2023

Despite the rising cost of living, Southlanders dug deep to support Family Works’ Christmas appeals last year, ensuring families in need were able to enjoy the festive season.

“Once again, we were blown away with the support and generosity of businesses and individuals around Southland,” Christmas hamper coordinator Tammy Honotapu said.

“To be able to take some pressure off our families allows them to enjoy Christmas that wee bit more.”

Family Works provided 51 food hampers to families it supported last year thanks to its generous supporters.

These included PWFP Fire Safety, GWD Toyota, Focus Technology, Asaleo Care Ltd, Fonterra, Majestic Horse Floats LP, Richmond Grove, Malloch McClean, Sanitarium Health Food Company NZ, Goodman Fielder, Chadderton & Associates, Great South, Meile Apiaries, Finance Now, Regal Flooring, First Church, Heather Robinson and Rotary clubs.

Tammy said Family Works had received some wonderful feedback from the families who received the hampers.

“I’d been dreading Christmas for months. Thank you for helping take the pressure off and bringing a little bit of magic to our home this Christmas. We’re so grateful,” a Christmas hamper recipient said.

The community also got behind the annual Christmas Gift Appeal.

Family Works manager Irene Te Koeti said the team had been overwhelmed by the generosity of the community, which resulted in more than 580 gifts for children and teens.

“Many children have benefited, and many families have been really happy going into Christmas having had some of the pressure eased,” she said.

A special mention needs to be made to our partners The Hits – Southland 98.8FM and Bayleys Southland Real Estate for their support of the gift appeal.

A big thank you also to Pam and Sonya Wilson, of Kiwi Christmas Books who donated 500 beautiful new children’s books, and the various Rotary clubs and businesses for their support, including Focus Technology, McIntyre Dick, Aon New Zealand, Findex and BDO Invercargill.

Focus general manager Brendon McDermott said – “as a locally-owned IT business we believe in our community, and it’s well-being is important to us.

“That’s why we’re proud to support Presbyterian Support Southland and get behind the annual Family Works Christmas Appeal each year to support those that need a bit of extra support at Christmas. Everyone deserves to enjoy the joy Christmas brings and we’re pleased that we can play our part in making that happen.”

For about 10 years, staff at H&J Smith have erected a Secret Santa Tree in the Invercargill department store to collect gifts for families involved in Family Works’ Family Start programme.

Family Start staff submitted a list to H&J Smith, with the names, ages, and genders of children they were working with. The public was then able to purchase gifts anonymously for children who would otherwise have missed out.

Thanks to the generosity of the store’s shoppers and staff, 145 presents were gifted to Family Start families last year.

Robyn Colvin of H&J Smith said – “I love being the Secret Santa and knowing H&Js is supporting these families who through no fault of their own can’t afford to buy Christmas presents.”

Family Works Family Start team leader Karen Willis said over the years Robyn, had been amazing with her time and energy co-ordinating the Secret Santa tree for the Family Start Programme.

“We are so grateful to be the recipients of the H&J Smith tree,” Karen said.

Family Works managers Irene Te Koeti and Kris Wallis and - “Once again, thank you to everyone who gave so generously [to our Christmas appeals].

“Your donations made a massive difference to our families at what can be a very difficult time of year.” 

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