Food hampers spread Xmas cheer

Food hampers spread Xmas cheer

Five hundred Christmas hampers will help make this Christmas a happy one for families in need.

The Christmas Box initiative in the Cooks, which will see the hampers delivered to the homes of people identified by Internal Affairs, was organised by the Aroa Mou Trust – a charity which aims to make life better for those in need throughout the Cook Islands.

The idea came from a parallel initiative in New Zealand, which has seen the Life Centre Trust in Auckland co-ordinate hampers for families in need at Christmas time for the past 12 years.

The boxes, which include 20 items such as noodles, corn beef, fruit salad and treats such as scorched almonds, were packed on Saturday by 86 volunteers. Of the 500 boxes packed, 200 were delivered to families in Rarotonga on Saturday, 200 will be sent to people in the outer islands and the rest had still to be delivered around Raro – including giving 16 boxes to the Creative Centre yesterday.

The major sponsors of the event in the Cooks are the Assembly of God church, Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI), Westpac, ANZ and Air New Zealand – with representatives from the sponsors turning up on Saturday to help pack the boxes.

Vaiana George, who helped co-ordinate the initiative in the Cooks, said the receivers of the hampers include the families of children identified by Internal Affairs for the Giving Tree promotion run by Westpac – where tags labelled with the age and gender of an underprivileged child are hung on a Christmas tree for people to take, and bring back an appropriate gift.

“We feel if there’s a child in need there’s a family in need as well,” said George. “It’s been a team effort – a country effort, I would say.”

Melony Pewhairangi from the Life Centre Trust, who visited the Cooks to help with the packing and delivery of the hampers, has been sharing her experience from the New Zealand initiative with organisers in the Cook Islands. She said delivering the hampers to the families was her favourite part of the experience – something she rarely gets the chance to do back in Auckland.

Secretary of Internal Affairs Bredina Drollet was pleased to see 186 of the hampers delivered to Internal Affairs yesterday, to be passed on to deserving families.

“Christmas means different things to different people but the real true meaning of Christmas is the miracle of the birth of Christ, and remembering those that are less fortunate than ourselves – which is very much a Cook Islands trait, giving to your community,” said Drollet.

George said the trust has already set its goals for next Christmas – aiming to box up 750 hampers on December 13, 2014.