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New statistics confirm importance of Wishing Tree

Media Release
22 November 2010

New statistics confirm importance of Wishing Tree
22 percent increase in families accessing Salvation Army social and emergency services

The importance of this year’s Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal has been confirmed by sobering new statistics from The Salvation Army, concerning the level of need in our communities.

New Zealand’s largest Christmas Gift Appeal was launched last week, with the intention of collecting 30,000 gifts for distribution by The Salvation Army to marginalised families across New Zealand.

“We already knew that, starting in 2008, the economic downturn had brought a huge increase in poverty and deprivation to many communities. However, the latest statistics concerning use of our services, suggest that the level of need has continued to rise significantly during the last year,” says the Salvation Army’s Territorial Public Relations Secretary, Major Robert Ross.

Over the twelve months to 30 September 2010, the Salvation Army delivered 53,707 food parcels to people and families in need, a 15 percent increase on the previous year. During the same period, the Salvation Army served 31,115 community meals and provided 134,400 nights of accommodation.

Across the board, the Salvation Army’s social and emergency services were faced with a 22 percent increase in demand, as compared to the previous twelve month period.

“Particularly alarming has been the increase of 38 percent in the number of new families turning to us for food for the first time, over the last quarter. Perhaps significantly, those seeking our help now include many who are employed, as well as those on benefits,” says Major Ross.

“For people who are already struggling, Christmas may be nothing like the time of joy and relaxation, to which most of us look forward. Instead, it may only add to the distress of families that may not be able to afford even the most modest of Christmas pleasures, including gifts for their children,” he says.

“More than ever, this year, we would urge caring New Zealanders to remember the families, and particularly the children, who won’t otherwise be receiving Christmas presents and to place a gift under the Wishing Tree in their local Kmart store,” Major Ross adds.

Now in its sixteenth year, the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal has helped more than 228,000 New Zealanders and, last year alone, distributed 26,593 gifts.

To contribute, all you need do is place a gift under a Wishing Tree in a Kmart store and then add a gift tag from the tree to identify the age and gender of a suitable recipient. The gift does not need to have been purchased from Kmart.

Alternatively, you can make a cash contribution to the Appeal at any Kmart store register. One hundred percent of your contribution will be converted into a Kmart gift card, for distribution by The Salvation Army. The Appeal runs until Christmas Eve.

“There’s no doubt about the level of need in our communities. Nor is there any doubt about the pleasure you can give to people facing difficulties, with a simple Christmas gift.

“So please, New Zealand, help us reach our target of 30,000 gifts. That should translate into 30,000 Christmas smiles,” says Kmart’s NZ Manager, Ms Sue Smith.


© Scoop Media

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