Getting ready for Christmas 

More than 300 Christmas hampers were given out in 2020. 

Te Awamutu’s Operation Christmas Hampers is in a much better position than it was last year, but volunteers have a lot of work to do.

“It is going a lot better this year, but we are feverishly trying to catch up on everything now,” said constable Ryan Fleming.

The community initiative is a collaboration between police, CommSafe, and other Waipā organisations. They support families in need be providing them with Christmas hampers.

“Chasing bad guys and stuff is fun, but it is actually quite rewarding to do something really nice like this for a change,” said Fleming.

Last year, the operation was hampered by Covid, and grocery vouchers were given out instead of the traditional hampers.

With the Covid restrictions now relaxed, the organisation is more prepared for this year’s holiday season.

It is also registered as not-for-profit, and has a dedicated bank account for donations.

Fleming said they gave out more than 300 hampers in 2020, “but that was a real stretch.”

“There were a lot of nominations that came in from the public for people who didn’t necessarily have a need for them,” he said.

“…it is actually quite rewarding to do something really nice like this for a change” – Ryan Fleming.

The organisation has a much more modest target of 200 hampers this year.

“What we want to do now is go around with the different agencies, like police, Kainga Aroha, Oranga Tamariki, Work and Income, and hopefully between our agencies we can work out where the real need is,” he said.

“We want to concentrate more on Christmas treat food, like Christmas puddings, chocolates, the stuff that kids are really going to like.”

Fleming said in other years they were able to provide families with frozen chickens, packets of gravy, roasting vegetables, and instruction books on how to cook a roast.

“That was the thing I was the most proud of, I am a bit of a roast fan and it is something that we take for granted… I would love to replicate that,” he said.

In late October and parts of November, volunteers – on the march with a police car will tour Te Awamutu collecting donations for the appeal.

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