This is the fifteenth Christmas that Ara Institute of Canterbury staff (formerly Aoraki Polytechnic) have donated presents to South Canterbury children and their families.
Each year Ara staff make merry by selecting gifts for those in need and placing them under a Christmas tree at the Timaru Campus reception.
The donated presents ready to be delivered
According to one of the organisers Annie Barker, over the last fourteen years “769 children in Timaru, Oamaru and Ashburton have had an extra special 'Santa' present under the tree. 50 of which was our 2016 effort, with three family gifts given as well”.
This year’s Christmas collection has gathered 43 children’s gifts, as well as two extra gifts per family donated by the Hospitality team.
Barker says it is easy for staff to get involved in the feel-good community initiative, and the children are overjoyed with the gifts they receive. “The value of the gift is not important, for these children it really is the thought that counts.”
Some staff even encourage their own kids to contribute by selecting a gift they themselves would like, but instead donating it to another child their age.
South Canterbury staff have also been collecting clothing to donate to the newly opened St Johns shop in Timaru.
The shop sells good quality second-hand clothing to the local Timaru community at very reasonable prices. Any profit the shop makes helps to fund the St Johns service and buy equipment for frontline teams.
Barker says the clothing drive is wonderful way to give back to the community. “You get to declutter your wardrobe and give to a worthy cause at the same time. I have been extremely blown away by the generosity of the staff in Timaru.”
Staff have collected two full racks of donated clothes, and raised an additional $30 for St Johns.
Clothing donated to the newly opened St John's shop in Timaru