With Christmas approaching, Police staff around the country are doing their bit to give people who need it a bit of a festive lift.
With their contacts throughout our communities, police are in the right place to help spread some goodwill among families for who Christmas can be a difficult time.
In Gisborne, for example, Police staff are pleased to be part of Operation Blue Santa – the second year running for Tairāwhiti.
The Gisborne Whāngaia Ngā Pa Harakeke team, with Te Aka Ora Charitable Trust and Countdown Gisborne, is running the initiative to give the community an opportunity to share food and Christmas treats with struggling families.
Before Christmas, Police and Social Services staff will visit families with a laundry basket full of donated food.
Whāngaia staff will be nominating who they feel are deserving of the basket – those they feel would appreciate it and benefit from a basket with Police delivering the basket in person.
There are lots of different reasons that various people are chosen – they could be grandparents who have taken on their grandchildren throughout year, even though they have limited financial capability to do so; some are sexual abuse victims who staff know feel vulnerable; and those who are part of intervention court and have been going really well with their progress.
Constable Tracey Mann is again doing the hard yards organising the initiative and drumming up interest from the community this year.
“It was just such an amazing experience last year to be able to do something like this for the families we work with. The response all round – from the families, the staff involved and the people who donated – was really heart-warming. It made everyone feel good” she says, so we are really keen to get into gifting baskets again this year. This is especially true because thanks to COVID-19 some families have lost their incomes and livelihoods.
The extended generosity of the Gisborne community was awesome last year, so we will be leaning on them again to give to those less fortunate, Tracey says. “In the past we have had businesses having muffins sales, quiz nights, and donating avocados for sale as fundraisers so their office could donate baskets to families.”
“Operation Blue Santa gives us the opportunity to shine a little light on the fact that there are families dealing with difficult circumstances – and to show this community really cares about one another,” says Constable Tracey Mann, from the Whāngaia team.
“Our Whāngaia Ngā Pa Harakeke team engage with whānau who are experiencing family harm or violence… For these families, Christmas can be a stressful time, and a show of support from the community will hopefully make a big difference for them.”
Filling an Operation Blue Santa basket costs around $85. The contents can be bought and put together by a family, group or business, and left with Countdown Gisborne, or funds can be paid into the Te Aka Ora bank account (02-0636-0061335-00 ref: Blue Santa).