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Plunket's secret army set to hit the streets

Media release
22 September 2003

Plunket's secret army set to hit the streets

The beat of feet and the swish of baby strollers, will reverberate throughout the country as Plunket volunteers hit the streets from 6 - 13 October for Plunket's annual house to house appeal.

For Plunket's New Zealand President, Kaye Crowther, this will be the 27th year she has collected for Plunket.

"It's traditional that Plunket's appeal takes place in October and once the envelope arrives in the letterbox, families anticipate that a collector will call.

"We are fortunate that we can muster a 'secret army' consisting of our volunteer force of 8,000, which swells to around 24,000 during appeal week," she said.

Kaye Crowther says that it is harder to get collectors than in the past and that Kiwi habits of giving have changed since Plunket began its nationwide house to house appeal in 1976.

"The advent of weekend shopping, two income households and longer working weeks for many, Saturday sport, and increased vehicle ownership means that families are busier and spend a lot of time out, particularly on the weekends.

"At one time our house to house appeal was a Saturday event, now it is spread throughout the week. For those who miss the collector, Plunket now has collection buckets at most pharmacies and hundreds of dairies.

"Our sponsors are also involved with Meridian staff collecting, Foodtown and Woolworths stores are collection points, and Huggies and Watties assist with appeal costs.

Kaye Crowther says the way people give has also changed significantly over the years. There are so many charities asking for donations, particularly during September and October, that many families select three or four and give to those.

"We have also seen an increase in credit card and postal donations. The average postal donation is now at around $25. Last year we trialled the delivery of the donation envelope to business box numbers and this is now part of our appeal strategy."

The work of organising an appeal is a huge undertaking, but Kaye says the results are worth it.

"Last year we collected $1.1 million and this year we hope to increase that amount to $1.2 million. A large proportion of the money collected in a community stays in that community and helps support the provision of the well child health checks Plunket delivers. It also allows additional services to be provided locally, including carseat rental schemes, antenatal and parenting education support programmes, parent support groups, toy libraries, playgroups and coffee mornings."

Kaye says she is looking forward to releasing a provisional total for the 2003 Plunket appeal on Friday 17 October.

"For our volunteers, mostly young mums, the next year's appeal begins the moment the last appeal ends. Our branches begin in earnest to organise their community appeal seven months out with orders for appeal items placed.

"Another important aspect is the community liaison that our volunteers undertake, particularly with service organisations, among them Lions, Rotary, Altrusa and Girl Guides, who give their time to collect for the Plunket appeal."

Kaye Crowther says for thousands of families the Plunket appeal is a family activity.

The whole Crowther family still turns out en masse for the appeal and last year Kaye found herself pushing a stroller again as her first grand-daughter, Emily, was introduced to the Plunket appeal.

"Plunket spans generations. My involvement has always been strong as I've seen the value of the organisation and how it assists families in communities throughout New Zealand.

"Our children are in fact our future and if we can't get it right for them in their early years, what chance do they have later on. As an agency and retirement consultant, working with the elderly I see the effects of not having strong families in society.

"As a society we don't place enough emphasis on children and families. Research and overseas expertise is telling us that the most important years are the first three years - we must put resource into them. What better way than contributing to this important appeal."

ends

NB The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society is New Zealand's leading well child health provider caring for over 50,000 new baby cases each year and making over 505,500 home and clinic visits annually. The Society employs over 980 staff and has 8,000 volunteers throughout New Zealand.


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