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Dancer extraordinaire kicks off national appeal

Embargoed Media Release until MONDAY 13 November

Dancer extraordinaire kicks off national Christmas gift appeal

New Zealand’s dancer extraordinaire and Dancing with the Stars co-host Candy Lane has today (Monday 13 November) officially launched the 2006 Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal – New Zealand’s largest Christmas gift appeal for families in need.

Last year the Wishing Tree Appeal collected a record 22,859 gifts for families in need and over the past 11 years the appeal has helped more than 126,000 New Zealanders.

Candy says Christmas should be a time for everyone to forget their worries, but for many New Zealanders this isn’t possible.

“For families that are struggling financially Christmas actually adds to their stress because of the pressure to buy presents for their loved ones. When they can’t do that, Christmas instead becomes a reminder of how difficult things are.

“This appeal has helped thousands of New Zealanders to share in the enjoyment of opening a present on Christmas day. The feedback that Kmart has had over the years is that the Wishing Tree Appeal makes a huge difference to people’s lives and helps make many families’ Christmas a bit brighter,” she says.

Candy encourages all New Zealanders to donate a gift to the appeal while they are out doing their annual present shopping.

“A small donation to the appeal can turn a bad day into a great day for a child, a teenager or a struggling mum or dad on Christmas day,” she says.

Gifts for the appeal can be donated at Wishing Trees, located at any Kmart store around New Zealand. The gifts are then distributed by The Salvation Army and Barnardos, the official charities of the Wishing Tree Appeal.

Barnardos Chief Executive Murray Edridge says the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal can bring great joy to a child who might otherwise have received no presents.

“The sad reality is that some children in New Zealand won’t have a single present to open on Christmas morning. Children hear that if they are good they’ll get a present – then nothing arrives on Christmas morning. It’s not a positive experience for those children.

“There are families who won’t have a Christmas tree surrounded with gifts, and they won’t be having the Christmas banquet that we take as a given in our society. It certainly brings joy to our staff who have the pleasure of delivering the donated gifts, which will mean there is at least one gift for a child to find on Christmas morning,” he says.

The Salvation Army’s South Auckland Director of Community and Family Services, Gerry Walker, says there is always a strong demand for their services at Christmas time, and it can be a particularly stressful time of year.

“For families that have struggled financially all year, buying something extra at Christmas isn’t an option. They don’t have the luxury to make the day special, but the pressure to do so is intense. Unfortunately that means many people feel very sad at this time of year,” Mr Walker says.

To participate in the Appeal, simply place a gift (wrapped or unwrapped) underneath the Wishing Tree at any one of Kmart’s 14 stores across New Zealand. Gifts do not need to be purchased from Kmart – all gifts will be gratefully received and will go towards helping brighten someone’s Christmas.

As an alternative to donating a gift, people can make a cash contribution at any Kmart store register. One hundred percent of cash contributions are converted by Kmart into Kmart gift vouchers, which are then distributed to people in need by welfare groups, allowing appeal recipients to choose their own Christmas gift.

The Wishing Tree Appeal runs from Monday 13 November until Christmas Eve.


Photo caption: Candy Lane officially launched the Wishing Tree Appeal at Kmart’s St Lukes store in Auckland.

Store locations:
Henderson, Auckland
St Lukes, Auckland
Papatoetoe, Auckland
Botany, Auckland
Manukau, Auckland
Bayfair, Tauranga
Whakatane (opens Dec 06)
Palmerston North
Porirua, Wellington
Riccarton, Christchurch
Shirley, Christchurch


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