The gift of kindness: How you can help thousands of Kiwis in need this Christmas

Christmas gift.
Christmas gift. Photo credit: Getty Images

While Christmas is a time of joy and celebration for most of us, for many New Zealanders the festive season can mean stress, isolation and few, if any, presents under the tree. 

For the thousands of kids in foster care or living in poverty, and for those families without a safe place to stay, Christmas can be particularly tough.

So, while we're doing our Christmas shopping and buying gifts for loved ones, our thoughts can often drift to those who aren't in such a fortunate position. 

It's easy to help Kiwis in need this Christmas with Trade Me's Kindness Store. Now in its seventh iteration, the store allows customers to browse and purchase items in the way already familiar to the 650,000 shoppers who visit the online marketplace everyday.

What makes the Kindness Store special is the way Trade Me works with local charities to identify items they need most to stock up the store, then ensures everything purchased reaches the charity. This year the store is partnering with KidsCan, Women's Refuge, and Foster Hope.

"It started off from this cool little idea we had a few Christmases ago to try to do something for Kiwis in need," says Trade Me spokesperson Emma Clapperton."Now it's turned into this amazing thing that people genuinely love."

The store has already received more than $35,000 in donations and Trade Me is rigorous in ensuring every dollar reaches the place it needs to go. 

"Exactly what you spend goes to the item and into that charity. We don't take a cut," says Emma. 

And in addition to not taking a cut, they're also giving to the good causes they're partnered with.

"It's important to us that we have skin in the game and so we’re donating $40,000 on top of what our members give, because we think it's so important to walk the talk."

While it began as a Christmas tradition, the Kindness Store opens whenever there is an acute need, from fundraising for St Johns after the Mosque attacks to providing assistance to those worst affected by the original COVID-19 lockdowns. 

While the variety of charities supported grows with each iteration, so does the store's impact, with the amount donated growing with each iteration.

"People are becoming really aware [of the store] and it just highlights how kind and generous our members are in how much they engage."

Taking part and donating an item or two is what makes the initiative so unique and a humbling experience for everyone involved. Emma points to the combination of meaningful connection and charity as another unique aspect of the Kindness Store. 

"When you can buy a toy that you know is going to go into a backpack for a kid that's going into foster care and you can see that toy in the store, it's really quite emotive and I think people really resonate with that. It's something different when you see an actual item that is really quite tangible."

The Kindness Store has the flexibility to offer Kiwis in different circumstances the option to only help out as much as they're comfortable with, particularly in light of the extra financial pressure on so many households at this time of year before the festive season.

"What we love about the store is that it's there for you when you can, and want to, give" says Emma. 

As for the future of the store, Emma says the dream would be for it to become a place where Kiwis give as frequently and naturally as they come to Trade Me to shop online.

"The goal for us really is just to make Trade Me a place where Kiwis not only buy and sell, but a place where they can go to offer a little bit of kindness to others."

The Kindness Store will be open all of December. Head on over so you can start the giving season with the gift of kindness.

This article was created for Trade Me.