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Christmas Gift Donations Down

Christmas Gift Donations Down, Despite Massively Increased Need

Whakatane, Albany & Porirua residents buck nationwide trend

Despite massively increased need, New Zealand’s largest Christmas gift appeal is currently tracking behind last year’s effort.

With only twelve days to go until Christmas Day, gift donations to the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal total 8,415, approximately 13 percent less than at the same time last year.

The Salvation Army and Barnardos, the charities associated with the Appeal, have both called on New Zealanders to make a big effort to reverse the decline and ensure that families in need have some Christmas cheer to look forward to.

Whakatane residents have been very generous this year to date and have donated 139% more gifts than at the same time last year. They are followed by the Albany store, which has seen a 112% increase in donations and Porirua with a 101% increase.

The Salvation Army Public Relations Secretary, Major Robert Ross said he was hoping for a surge in gifts over the next eleven shopping days. This was much needed given the pressures faced by an increasing number of families this year.

“We do appreciate that times are tough for most people, but Christmas is a time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves, including those who can’t afford even small Christmas presents for their children. We urge Kiwis to give what they can to the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal.

“Even though some commentators are talking about the first sign of economic recovery The Salvation Army is experiencing an increase in demand for our services with 40% more people seeking assistance in the lead up to Christmas. We believe the effect of the recession will continue to be felt by the poor and vulnerable for some time yet and will take several years to recede,” he said.

“Knowing how difficult things are makes us all the more appreciative of those who have bucked the trend and already donated gifts to the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal. We hope that many more will follow this example as the countdown to Christmas continues,” Major Ross added.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Murray Edridge said they were also experiencing a significant increase in demand from the families they support.

“The current economic climate has had a very big impact on many of the children and families we work with. Throughout the year we have recorded an increase in families identifying issues around family relationships, parenting, drug and alcohol abuse and financial hardship.

“For many families the festive season brings extra financial pressure. Families we have worked with have been through difficult times, and some could face a bleak Christmas without the assistance of the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal,” said Mr Edridge.

Kmart New Zealand Manager, Sue Smith said there was still time for New Zealanders to meet or surpass last year’s gift total, adding that those who have donated gifts have provided a fantastic example of generosity in tough economic times.

“It’s wonderful to know that there are still generous Kiwis out there and we are very grateful for their support in the lead up to Christmas,” Ms Smith said.

“Their generosity will make Christmas a little brighter for many families this year.”

To participate in the Appeal, simply place a new gift (wrapped or unwrapped) underneath the Wishing Tree at any one of Kmart’s 15 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 into Kmart gift cards, which are then distributed by welfare groups, allowing Appeal recipients to choose their own Christmas gift.

The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal is New Zealand’s largest Christmas gift appeal and over the past 14 years has distributed 202,000 gifts. Last year the Appeal distributed 29,797 gifts. The presents are distributed within the communities they are donated in by The Salvation Army and Barnardos, the official charities of the Wishing Tree Appeal.


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