New ideas helping with City Mission's Christmas rush

  • 25/12/2013

The City Mission has struggled to meet record demand this Christmas as people flooded in to collect food parcels.

But two ingenious ideas have helped ease the burden - one that uses the people most in need to help out by digging in.

The garden with the best view in Auckland is now helping fill the Christmas gap for those who would otherwise go without. The twist? Homeless people themselves run the fruit and vegetable patch.

"It's a pretty good feeling for them, and it's a pretty good feeling for us too to see people coming home a bit tired, a bit sweaty, a bit dirty but having had a good day," says the Auckland City Mission's Wilf Holt.

And it's desperately needed. In the lead up to Christmas hundreds have lined up every day outside the Auckland City Mission to collect food parcels.

"Every working day of the year there's a food parcel going out at the mission and it's the veges that are going out in that," says Mr Holt.

He helps run the garden at Orakei Marae and says it's about much more than just gardening.

"It's about being on the marae, welcomed, feeling part of something, being part of something bigger than just yourself and being part of the fabric of the place."

Across town in Mairangi Bay, Di Celliers has spent the lead up to Christmas picking too.

She's set up groups of volunteers to collect unwanted fruit that's given to the City Mission.

"I just hate the idea of people going hungry when the fruit grows so beautifully around here and there's so many fruit trees, and if each person just gave one bag of fruit then you'd have hundreds of families getting a bag of fruit they wouldn't otherwise have," she says.

The idea has taken off around the country after she started an online campaign. Hundreds of people are now involved - with so much fruit collected the leftovers are made into jam, which is sold or donated.

Ms Celliers says people get involved because it's satisfying to know you're making a difference.

"I hope it means a lot to them. We don't know because most of the time we don't see them getting it, but I do know there are always queues outside City Mission and there's people going hungry," she says.

Because the queues have been longer than ever this year, every little bit helps.

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source: newshub archive