Topic: Christmas

Packing Christmas hampers for struggling solo-parent families

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes
  • Auckland

This Spirit of Christmas is a group set up and run by solo parents with a goal of helping provide a little bit of Christmas joy to those who find the season difficult and financially challenging. In the five years since its inception, around $4000 has been donated for the initiative which distributes 50 hampers per year.

Organiser Aaron D'Souza says, "Basically when you're a solo parent family you don't have the support of another adult there to help you so it takes a bit of pressure off the parent who has the responsibility of those four or five young kids."

Patricia Hepi-Brown (Ngāpuhi) is a mother of 7 who was there to support as a volunteer, "It is difficult I've had to make a lot of sacrifices, kids first then me, we just work as a team, with my teenagers we all have our jobs in the house that's how we get past all the difficult times we've had."

D'Souza wants to help other solo-parent families by empowering them and seeing how they can help each other.

Hepi-Brown was also a recipient of a hamper and is grateful for the support, "You look at these hampers, it adds up to like 150-200 bucks, that's money, I haven't been able to take the girls up for like 5 years so that extra $200 bucks is gas money to get us up there."

Over 140 people volunteered to pack 50 giant hampers for solo parents around Auckland. 75% of the parents receiving the gifts based in South Auckland with recipients mostly nominated by Māngere Bridge school staff. D'Souza says, "Just the sheer volume of volunteers more than double than what we had last year as you can see there are presents just everywhere we've got so many presents donates it's just been incredible."

Helping out as a volunteer with his mates, Mangere Bridge School ex-head boy Christopher Tenisio says, "We're just here because we're happy to help, Mr D'Souza the organiser is our teacher and he needed a few boys to come and help out lift up the boxes and we're happy to help especially for families that are less fortunate than us I mean if we get a Christmas why shouldn't they get a Christmas as well."

This year around $2000 was donated in cash by the public and businesses.

D'Souza says, "This year we've had a few companies donate money, we've been able to go and buy presents, we're not a registered charity we've decided to keep it grassroots and many of the companies that are donating don't mind that they don't get their tax back on the donations, they're just happy to be supporting an initiative like this."

He hopes to register The Spirit of Christmas as a charity before seeking government funding.