Christmas from the
Christmas From The Heart is a collaborative initiative focussed on addressing Christmas hardship throughout Tāmaki Makaurau. The Te Uru o Tāmaki Makaurau (West Auckland) event is run by Visionwest with partnering support from the Auckland City Mission. 2022 was the fourth year of this collaboration. Other organisations run equivalent events in other parts of the city.
Christmas From The Heart 2022 ran from Wednesday 14 December to Thursday
22 December (excluding the weekend). As with previous years, whānau phoned in to preregister and were allocated a specified day and time for collecting their parcel, which they picked up from the Glen Eden Baptist Church (GEBC) carpark.
Of note at this year’s event was size of the need and the obvious financial hardship faced by a significant number of people within our community. As whānau came to receive food and gifts, many spoke of this being the first time they had ever requested support of this kind. Some expressed embarrassment, apologising for being a bother and having to request help. Others talked about the daily challenge of meeting the rapidly rising cost of food, petrol, rent and other essentials which left very little money for extras; and certainly, very little to spend on anything special over the Christmas period. Of those responding to the event’s Exit Survey, 65% stated that their financial situation was worse than at the same time during the previous year.
It was not surprising that Christmas From The Heart 2022 saw a 30% increase in the number of parcels provided compared to the previous year and a 47% increase in the number of toys for children. In another first, 197 people seeking help were in their senior years (that is, over 65 years old).
As with previous events, whānau who registered for a food and gift box had the voluntary option of being assessed by WINZ for a Special Needs Grant (SNG). 66% of people took up this offer. The fact that this was slightly ahead of the previous year’s uptake again shows the increase in financial pressure that many whānau are experiencing.
Once again, the event’s success was helped greatly by the large volunteer contingent – 380 people over the seven days – with the number of businesses registering to be involved slowly increasing each year.
On 15 November 2022, in preparation for Christmas From The Heart, Visionwest’s first 24-hour Giving Day was held with proceeds going towards children’s Christmas gifts. $46,000 was raised which was a huge help.