Hamper Day at VisionWest is the distribution of 200 hampers to whanau of varying sizes, containing food for a Christmas meal and gifts for children 14 and under.
This is an operation that consists of months of planning, multiple generous donors, a great many volunteers and labour intensive work for a number of days leading up to it. Getting these 200 hampers out is no small feat and the result of an extensive network of supporters…
So why…? Why do we do this?
Is it just so that children get presents? Any parent who has saved all year so that their child/ren will get exactly what they love/want knows the pangs of heartache and frustration when, only a couple of weeks later, gifts can be lost, broken or discarded too easily.
And aren’t there plenty of families who no longer buy into the whole Christmas deal anyway? Pretty sure minimalism is making a comeback.
But, if you think about it, there is a big difference between choosing to forego something and finding yourself in circumstances that prevent you from being able to participate in a long standing tradition and cultural norm. The feelings of exclusion, failure and general misery are very real, thereby undoing any progress that may have been made outside of this occasion.
While living in the United States and just married, my husband and I headed off on the morning of Thanksgiving to my in-laws house for a beautiful festive lunch. We left early for our four hour drive but found ourselves facing treacherous driving conditions as the snow came down thick and fast. An hour and a half in, we turned around and headed home to our ‘not in the least bit festive’ apartment and had toast for lunch.
To say that we were disappointed and hungry is an understatement. We were not only missing out on a tasty meal, we were missing fellowship with family and a chance to relish those feelings of belonging. Especially knowing that everyone else we knew was doing just that.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘belong’ means to be at home, to fit in, to be accepted. And I’m sure we can all agree that the need to belong is fundamental to being human.
Therefore, when times are tough it’s almost more important to keep up morale. That sense of normalcy and tradition become more vital than ever to maintaining hope, mental health and wellbeing.
VisionWest’s Hamper Day sought to bring this sense of belonging to these 200 whanau. Not just through the giving of food and gifts but also through fellowship.
Over the course of the day, whanau stopped by to pick up their hamper and were welcomed into the Glen Eden Baptist Church café for a coffee and slice of pavlova while they waited. Children had their faces beautifully painted by the talented Pip Gray and staff handed out bags of candy floss.
It was so great to see the Christmas spirit in full force, transforming lives and building community.
A huge thank you to all who made this possible. We could not do this without you.
Genesis Energy Volunteers, New Lynn Rotary, Whenuapai School, Vector, Glen Eden Library, Life Church, The Trusts Community Foundation, Three Kings Accident and Medical and Konini Primary room 13.
By Melita Foster, Philanthropy Coordinator at VisionWest