How you can give back this winter: Simple ways you can support New Zealanders in need

Group of young volunteers woman smiling happy make heart symbol with hands together at charity center. - stock photo
Photo credit: Getty Images

While wintertime can wear on us all due to wild weather, seasonal mood changes and cold, damp homes, the three months are particularly difficult for those among us who are less fortunate.

Thankfully, with a little research, there are a number of ways we can give back to the community and do our part to support charitable initiatives.

Now is a particularly good time to consider taking part in charitable endeavours as rising inflation continues to fuel the cost of living crisis in Aotearoa. Last week, the latest figures revealed that annual inflation had risen 7.3 percent; the largest jump in 32 years. As a result, many families and whanau across the country are feeling the pinch and struggling to afford the basics due to the inflated price of food, petrol and other goods, including many tenants facing sky-high rent.

Recent Food Price Index figures found groceries were 6.4 percent pricier this April, compared to the same month last year. Fruit and vegetables rocketed up 9.4 percent, while the cost of meat, poultry and fish ballooned by 8.4 percent; some Aucklanders have even admitted cutting meals to cope.

With the cost of living continuing to bite, Newshub has rounded up a few simple ways you can give back to the community this winter; remember, it doesn't matter if it's big or small - every little bit helps.

Support people with periods to access important products 

This month, New Zealand-based wellness brand Eve has teamed up with The Period Place with a new charity partnership to help support those in need. 

For the months of July and August 2022, Eve will donate a one-month supply of period products to those in need for every purchase of an Eve Period Pal bought in-store and online, with help from The Period Place; a New Zealand-based charity fighting for menstrual justice through advocacy, outreach, education, promotion and a nationwide period product donation programme.

The two have teamed up in the past, partnering for a 'Period Party' back in 2021 to encourage women to speak about their periods without shame. As their entry ticket, guests were required to donate a period product; a table full of liners, tampons, cups and period underwear were donated to The Period Place to be distributed to those in need throughout Aotearoa.

Period Pal, Eve's best-selling supplement, was designed to help those who experience less than desirable PMS symptoms each month. The nutrient-rich formula acts to support healthy ovulation and progesterone production to help keep the body balanced and minimise the hassle associated with the monthly cycle. 

The products donated from every Period Pal sold will support women and families in need and help their goal of achieving period equity throughout Aotearoa. Period Pal can be purchased online and at Life and Unichem Pharmacies, Health 2000, and other participating health stores and pharmacies around New Zealand. 

How you can give back this winter: Simple ways you can support New Zealanders in need
Photo credit: Supplied

Blankets needed to keep vulnerable families warm this winter

A social services provider that supports some of New Zealand's most vulnerable families is appealing for blankets to help keep New Zealanders in need warm this winter.

Family Works Northern, which provides budgeting, food and counselling support to families across Aotearoa, says families are struggling to stay warm during the cold snap due to the rising cost of living. With the skyrocketing prices of petrol, food and housing, many families are unable to make ends meet or afford the basic necessities needed to comfortably endure the cold.

"People are telling us they desperately need blankets, so we're asking anyone who can help to donate new blankets or money to buy blankets," said community relationship manager, Anne Overton.

"This is a tangible way people can make a difference to those in vulnerable circumstances. We also encourage businesses who are in a position to help to get behind this initiative as well."

Family Works is asking individuals and/or organisations to either donate new or clean blankets in good condition, or money that can be used to purchase brand-new blankets, as a tangible way to help families in need during a difficult time. 

Blankets can be dropped off between 9am and 4pm at:

  • Presbyterian Support Northern reception, 111 Great South Road, Epsom
  • Family Works Northern reception, 2171 Great North Road, Avondale
  • Family Works Te Hononga reception, 10 Mahia Road, Manurewa
  • Communities Feeding Communities Initiative, 1207 Dominion Road, Mt Roskill.

The donated blankets will be distributed through Family Works' social and youth workers in lower-decile schools as well as by family workers and financial mentors, to ensure the blankets get to those who need them the most.

Monetary donations can be made online via the provider's websiteDonations will be used exclusively to buy blankets or food parcels for vulnerable families.

Calls for fruit tree owners to pick surplus for those in need

A social enterprise supporting a charitable initiative that will provide food for 5000 vulnerable families has called on Kiwis with citrus trees on their property to pick surplus fruit, which can be donated to those in need. 

Food rescue charity Fair Food, which supplies over 50 local community groups with more than 2.4 million meals per year, has also opened a 'Conscious Kitchen' to teach members of the community the principles of upcycling food. 

With around a third of all food produced globally wasted, staff at Fair Food receive and hand-sort around a tonne of discarded food each day - which is provided by supermarkets, growers and manufacturers. 

The surplus produce would otherwise be destined for landfill, generating an estimated 540 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.

Deborah Mclaughlin, chief financial officer at Fair Food, says the poverty gap is widening due to pandemic-driven food shortages, inflation and winter heating costs, with around 40 percent of Kiwi households experiencing food insecurity and 19 percent of tamariki living in homes where meals are not guaranteed. 

"I know one woman recently had to stop her children's sporting activities over the weekend because it became a choice between paying for the petrol to get them there, or buying groceries. I have heard of others having to go without heat. No one should have to be in this position," she said. 

Allan Pollard, CEO of The Trusts - a local social enterprise that provides financial support for the distribution of the meals - is now urging Kiwis with surplus fruit growing on their trees to donate the produce to a local food charity.

Currently citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and mandarins, are in season and food rescue charities like Fair Food can often collect the produce from those willing to pick it. 

The request comes as Fair Food prepares to deliver 75,000 meals to thousands of vulnerable families during the winter period.

How you can give back this winter: Simple ways you can support New Zealanders in need
Photo credit: Supplied

Donate blood, save lives

New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) is asking those who are in good health to make one donation during winter, as illness plaguing regular donors is severely impacting the non-profit's ability to meet its blood and plasma collection targets. 

The NZBS is a not-for-profit Crown entity responsible for the collection, processing, testing, storage and distribution of blood and blood products in Aotearoa. The service relies on voluntary and non-remunerated blood donations from individuals around the country in order to provide a constant supply of blood and blood products, which are used by health services to save thousands of lives nationwide.

However, more than 30 percent of donors across Aotearoa are either cancelling or rescheduling their appointments due to the winter ills and chills circulating in the community.

"The arrival of cooler weather has unfortunately brought with it an increase in winter-related illnesses. That is side lining a large number of our donors and means we are struggling to collect enough blood and plasma," said NZBS national marketing and communications manager, Asuka Burge. 

"To help boost our supplies, we're asking those in good health who meet the donor eligibility criteria to make one blood or plasma donation this winter. It's such a small thing to do, but it will have a huge impact." 

Blood only has a shelf-life of 35 days, and the service needs to collect 2350 units each and every week to ensure adequate supply is maintained. Plasma is the amber-coloured liquid component of blood that contributes to 55 percent of the blood's total volume. Plasma is necessary to help the body recover from injury, distribute nutrients, remove waste and prevent infection; 2600 donations are needed weekly to meet demand.  

"Every 18 minutes, someone in New Zealand will need blood or plasma," said Burge. "Every time you donate, you help ensure a patient is able to receive their life-saving treatment or surgery.

"There are many reasons patients need transfusions. It's the blood already on the shelves that helps patients when tragedy strikes – but an adequate supply also has to be ready to provide for the individual needs of patients that arise every day; the cancer treatment, the accident victim, the transplant patient.

"We're asking new donors, and people who haven't given in a while, to help by making an appointment in the coming days and weeks. Donors of all blood types are needed. What better way to get a warm glow during the chilly winter months by rolling up your sleeve and helping to save a life." 

To book an appointment to donate, visit, download the NZ Blood App or call 0800 448 325. Those who have never donated before are encouraged to find out if they are eligible before booking an appointment; all donors are asked to schedule an appointment rather than turning up. 

A sweet treat for an even sweeter cause

The local ice cream connoisseurs behind Duck Island have teamed up with pay-as-you-feel community enterprise, Everybody Eats, to take a stand against poverty and food waste with a brand-new collaboration.

Everybody Eats is an award-winning, not-for-profit dining concept that rescues perfectly edible food that would otherwise go to waste, transforming it into restaurant-quality three-course meals for customers who pay what they can, if they can; bringing people from all walks of life together in the process. With one in five New Zealanders going hungry, Everybody Eats operates with the philosophy of "'feeding bellies, not bins".

The partners have now officially launched Duck Island's Carrot Cake Ice Cream, a tasty blend of cream cheese, spices and locally grown, rescued carrots that were otherwise destined for landfill. From mid-July and throughout August, the all-new flavour will be served at Everybody Eats' restaurants in Auckland and Wellington, along with all Duck Island shops - with $0.50 of every scoop donated to Everybody Eats.

By rescuing edible ingredients that are destined for landfill, the partnership is about sweet treats for even sweeter causes - and you get a tasty reward for your donation.

Everybody Eats' founder and general manager, Nick Loosley, says Duck Island's contribution will go a long way to ensure more Kiwis are fed across the country.

"Since starting Everybody Eats in 2017, we have diverted over 75 tonnes of food from landfills, engaged over 5000 volunteers and served over 100,000 individual three-course meals. In other words, we've done a lot of maths," he said.

"We know first-hand that a $5 donation to Everybody Eats can fund one three-course meal for a vulnerable Kiwi. Each meal is served at a shared table, enabling communities to eat together in a dignified, safe and stigma-free environment. Duck Island is now the ice cream on the (carrot) cake."

There are three main ways you can support Everybody Eats; signing up to volunteer, donating, and enjoying a meal at one of their two restaurants; their flagship eatery is located in Onehunga, while a part-time venue is open three days a week at LTD. in Wellington. If you are able to leave a donation, the money goes back into creating more meals for those who can't afford to pay for their own; helping to feed the homeless, elderly, single parents and other struggling Kiwis.

How you can give back this winter: Simple ways you can support New Zealanders in need
Photo credit: Supplied