Anonymous Donors' kindness lends Struggling Southland Families a Helping Hand

By PSS | Posted: Monday August 10, 2020

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor’s gift to PSS’ Family Works, four Southland families doing it tough during Lockdown were given a much-needed helping hand up.

During lockdown Family Works Director Judith McInerney was contacted by the Reverend Nyalle Paris of First Church to say that a very kind member of his congregation had anonymously gifted $500 worth of supermarket vouchers at the start of Lockdown. The Family Works team had the “absolute privilege” of honouring the donor’s wishes that they go to families in Southland needing immediate relief.

“No Southland household would have escaped the impact of Covid but it certainly amplified and compounded the challenges faced by families already struggling under ‘normal’ circumstances.”

“These are families we support and work alongside to help them overcome the likes of financial difficulties, family relationship issues, parenting problems, family violence or abuse, addiction, maybe a health crisis … or, for some, it could even be about a cold or damp, draughty house.”

“Covid just added a whole new layer of hardship on top,” said Judith.

Family Works social services staff were able to immediately identify recipient families – even though all families would have benefited from assistance at the time.

Ultimately, the donated supermarket vouchers went to four of the families the agency worked with who had the greatest need - each facing a quite different, but equally hard, set of circumstances.

One family, with a number of children, had financial pressures made worse by Covid lockdown events; another family, working hard to address issues so they could reunite, were struggling to juggle paid employment in and around necessary appointments and needs; a third family suffered material losses in a house fire which saw them struggling to make ends meet; and the fourth recipient family, with two seriously-unwell children, incurred unbudgeted expenses when upgrading from their previous, unhealthy home.

Judith was the fortunate one tasked with delivering the vouchers to the families during Lockdown – all of which was carried out with physical-distancing and in a responsible manner.

“I even quarantined the vouchers and envelopes for a week!”

Judith said it had been humbling to witness the reactions of the recipient families.

“They were so thankful and grateful … and possibly even a little overwhelmed by the act of kindness by a stranger.”

Family Works was further buoyed by two similar anonymous gifts of vouchers from a couple in the community that followed – these too were distributed to Family Works families finding life post Lockdown particularly hard.

"We are indeed fortunate to benefit from close ties with our local churches and that others in the community also think of the people we work with. We’re absolutely delighted to be on the receiving end of such generous gifts.”

“These donations make a big difference in the lives of the families we work with,” Judith said.

“From all of us at PSS Family Works, we extend our heart-felt thanks, as do our clients.”

To find out how the power and practice of your generosity can help people in need across Southland, visit the Presbyterian Support Southland website at or phone (03) 211 8200.