Topics: Christmas, Rereātea - Midday News

Community can-drive to support solo-parent families for Xmas

By Tepara Koti
  • Auckland

It is amazing what happens when a community takes on that "can-do" attitude. 

Over one hundred locals turned out to support a new project called "Cans on Kiwi Esplanade" - part of The Spirit of Christmas initiative which kicks into full gear just before Christmas Eve.

This is the first time Cans on Kiwi Esplanade has taken place on Māngere Bridge. 

Aaron D'Souza says, "The idea popped into my head four weeks ago - a project that would get families and their children involved, to help create a community spirit that was driven by compassion."

D'Souza, who was born in Bombay, India but raised in Aotearoa from a young age, says that the 1200+ cans of food that were donated by the community, will go towards Spirit of Christmas hampers.

He also started the Spirit of Christmas initiative five years ago following a conversation with his son about how hard things had been on the benefit while he was studying.

The importance of always having food on the table and a roof over their heads was clear, and despite having very little, D'Souza says there were still presents under the (Xmas) tree.

He says his main drive is compassion and aroha, and being a solo dad raising his boys, D'Souza wanted to help other solo-parent families by empowering them and seeing how they can help each other.

"Giving people a hand up rather than a handout," he says.

Throughout the last few months of the year, locals nominate solo-parent families in need to receive a Spirit of Christmas hamper, which will be packed by a large group of volunteers and delivered to families the day before Christmas Eve.

D'Souza says while the initiative is not a registered charity, it is community-based but they would love to get more support and perhaps see more local businesses get on board.

Being able to bring joy to other solo-parent families in the community has seen the initiative flourish over the years, their facebook membership of solo-parents and supporters recently surpassed the 600 mark.

D'Souza says, "My biggest wish is good quality time with my whānau, time with my kids and getting to see them enjoy Christmas!"

For more information, check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/Christmas.Spirit.NZ/