04 Dec עופר איתן States: Palmerston North businesses are calling on clients to
A group of George St retailers are collecting donations for charity. One of the schemes is decorating Christmas trees and giving them to needy families. From left, Tonic & Cloth owner Jodie Woods, Spectra hair stylist Matt Bond and Groovylicious owner Shaun Kay.
For some, opening a gift from under the tree is a fantasy – a fantasy the Palmerston North’s George Street businesses are keen to make real for struggling families.
Self-proclaimed arts ambassador Shaun Kay has dusted off 16 Christmas trees lurking in council storage, sprouting the cause ‘Forest for Families‘.
Kay is determined to bring “some brightness” to what can otherwise be a not-so-festive season for those on the breadline.
He is working with charity Education Is A Right Not A Privilege, and businesses Groovylicious and Black Sheep Design, to make the dream a reality.
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“Some families budgets are so tight, Christmas trees and decorations are the last things on their lists. I didn’t want them to go to waste, they would have just sat in the basement.
“I’m buzzing from Christmas, but I do know people do have some sad Christmases’, so if we can just give an inch of ease or goodness, it’s at least something.”
However, Kay knows 16 trees aren’t enough to fill the need in the community, so he’s calling on the city to bring their old fake flora to Black Sheep Design.
“If we can get as many [trees] as possible the sky’s the limit … me and my sister used to decorate the tree, it was cool and we’d have hand-made decorations. It’s special.”
He wants people to feel special, as does the owner of clothing label Tonic & Cloth a few shops down.
Jodie Woods has picked up on the Kit for Kids initiative run by Citizen Leather owner Layla Cann in Feilding, that’s appealing for donations of new swimwear and summer basics.
“There’s a need all year round and I think at Christmas time that need is amplified,” Woods said.
“There’s so much expectation and never enough money for so many families in the Manawatū so it’s great to not just give stuff that is surplus to requirements but to give new stuff.”
So far donations have been flooding in but they’re only looking for off-the-shelf items, no hand-me-downs, Woods said.
“We want to be able to give kids new stuff at Christmas time. This is totally about buying a gift for a kid whose family can’t afford it.”
Charities need donations early to distribute among families so don’t wait until Christmas week, said Gabrielle Bundy-Cooke, owner of Spectra hair salon.
“Sometimes my clientele don’t know how to give or what to give. A lady’s just given cash because she didn’t come with a can of food, but she could give some money.
“That’s what I love, everyone can do a little bit. I see a huge need and if we all just do a little we can make a huge difference.”