Families given a helping hand

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Families in need are being given a helping hand with surprise food boxes from a local church.

The Whangarei Seventh-day Adventist church in North New Zealand, hopes to provide a little bit of relief for families suffering significant hardship through the recession.

It's amazingly well used. We have up to 200 to 250 people go through that program.

“The project has been running for about three years and is certainly is making a difference in the community,” said Adrian Webster, pastor of the Whangarei church.

“Many children are arriving at school on an empty stomach and this creates many problems, like learning difficulties and behavioural challenges.”

The church gives two boxes of mostly breakfast foods to a different Whangarei school each week, for the school to distribute.

Assistant pastor, Garry Hallmond says the boxes are part of the church’s community outreach program, to let people know it cares.

 

*Garry Hallmond loads up Manaia View School principal Leanne Otene with food boxes.

 

The program is unique because the boxes are unexpected—families don’t ask or apply for them like they would a food parcel. The schools are also able to use their knowledge to pick families who would benefit the most.

Manaia View School principal Leanne Otene says the boxes are going to make a huge difference to families during these tough times. The school was given three boxes and tried to give them to large families who don’t look for a handout but do find things hard, she says. Even families that have a parent working are struggling during these times, she says.

The school provides about 500 breakfasts a month through the Red Cross Breakfast in Schools program. But the program finishes at the end of the term and Mrs Otene is desperately applying to other programs for the breakfasts to continue.

“We get a large number of kids who come to school who haven’t had breakfast, for various reasons but probably the main one is economics,” Mrs Otene said.

 
Children about to be served food sponsored by ADRA and Sanitarium in Whangarei, New Zealand  


Mr Hallmond says food for the boxes comes from donations from church members, Sanitarium Health Food Company and the national Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA).

The Whangarei program is a model for other Adventist churches around the country who are considering doing the same.

“I’m very proud of some of the initiatives that are happening in our church. Our emphasis has been to meet community needs and our members are going the extra mile to do just that,” said Pastor Webster.

The Whangarei church also runs a free clothing program on the third Thursday of each month through the support of the agencies.

“It’s amazingly well used. We have up to 200 to 250 people go through that program,” Mr Hallmond says.

*Photo credit: Whangarei Leader