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Kiwis help even in tough times

Kiwis help even in tough times

Kiwis are known as a generous lot – but what happens when economic conditions get tough? New Zealand charity Orphans Aid International has found that despite the recession, Kiwis still love to help those in need.

Founder Sue van Schreven says the key has been using fundraising tools that help out both the locals and Orphans Aid International’s beneficiaries.

“Our fundraising stores – four op shops around the country - have been such a success,” she says. “They save the locals money all while raising much needed funds for children who have no one else.”

Orphans Aid International’s op shops have enjoyed great community support in Dunedin and Invercargill. A new op shop in Hastings and in central Tauranga are the latest additions to the charity’s growing network of fundraising stores!

Mrs van Schreven says more op shops around the country are on the horizon. “There has been so much support for our new shops in Tauranga and Hastings, and we often have people asking when there will be a shop in their area, we have our eyes currently on two new areas”

Staffed by amazing and generous Kiwi volunteers, these shops have a strong tradition of helping the communities they are based in, through food hampers, raising funds for local causes, and setting low prices to help those struggling through the recession.

Every dollar raised is quickly put to work. Each month Orphans Aid International sends more than $20,000 to its projects in Romania, Russia, and India. Funds are used to provide shelter, food, medical treatment and carers for orphaned children.

Getting that money together is often a challenge though, says Mrs van Schreven. “We have a small group of committed sponsors and our shops are very successful, but the needs are great. Often we have more money being sent to our projects than what we’ve had coming in, the shops allow us to respond to needs and continue to grow as an organisation. I also love the fact we're clean and green and helping the environment as well by selling recycled clothing that may have otherwise been discarded.”

Mrs van Schreven started Orphans Aid International in 2004, after she visited Romania and saw for herself the conditions orphaned children were growing up in. Going around the hospitals and seeing children abandoned in cots, without human interaction and love, she knew she had to act.

The first project established was a rescue home in Turges Mures, Romania. Centres for street kids in Russia and India came next. Now the charity is looking to expand into AIDS-stricken Uganda.

“There are more than 150 million children right now living without parental care,” Mrs van Schreven says. “I asked myself, what wouldn’t I do, if these were my children?”

With Christmas looming Orphans Aid International would like to invite those looking for budget priced gifts that give back to the community to visit a shop near them. They also would like to take the opportunity to thank people in the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Southland and Otago areas for their fantastic support this past year.

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