2018 in review: Everyday Kiwis that made us think about being a better society

Amid the thousands of stories we cover here at 1 NEWS each year, there are a few that make us think about life and society differently.

In 2018, we saw new ground broken, crucial sectors of our society asking for newfound respect and the selfless actions of everyday Kiwis making a huge difference in their neighbourhood.

Here, we look back at a few of those stories that, in their own way, helped changed New Zealand for the better in 2018.

Good Sorts: Sharlene Clements and her unique daycare service for kids

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For many years Sharlene of Whangarei was too scared to try and turn her dreams into reality. Source: 1 NEWS

For many years, Sharlene Clements was too scared to try and turn her dreams into reality. That's all changed now.

"I was scared to fail, I still am, I'm terrified. I'm just me," she told Haydn Jones on Good Sorts in September.

Sharlene used to treat kids in their homes until she finally decided to open her own daycare – a special place where kids who have special health conditions who don't fit into daycare can go.

She managed to follow her dream thanks to support from her husband and community as well as inspiration from her son, Luke, who turned himself into a champion runner.

"If he can do what he does then I can be brave and do this as well.

"So my husband and I took out a bank loan to do this project," Sharlene said.

Since January, her husband Dave would finish work before heading to the daycare to help set it up and, with a lot of community help, they opened Sharlene's day care in July.

"When your husband builds you your dream that's pretty neat."

Sharlene says she didn't build a day care to get rich. She built it to look after kids who need it the most.

The South Auckland Street where a free food pantry is bringing neighbours together

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The Cooper Crescent family has involved locals to give and take what they need, and is opening hearts in the process. Source: Seven Sharp

A community pantry in South Auckland offering people free food that's been donated has spurred the development of over 30 more similar projects.

In August Seven Sharp touched base with a community changing the face of their neighbourhood, by inviting locals to give what they can and to take what they need from an outside pantry, or pātaka, in Otara.

Swanie Nelson got the Cooper Crescent community pantry project off the ground.

"We executed this as a result of wanting to bring something closer to residents that we knew weren't accessing the free resources in our community. There were still barriers there," she said.

"No judgement here, absolutely no judgement," Ms Nelson said at the pantry.

She told Seven Sharp no-one has to be at the pantry when someone comes, "they can rock up, get out, load up and go".

"It's bringing communities together and allowing conversations to happen, important ones."

As well as residents, local businesses are also helping out, donating bread daily.

And the kindness is catching. Two women, Mia and Candice, who were asked by Ms Nelson to set up pātaka in their own suburbs, Mangere and Otahuhu, have done so.

Ms Nelson wants to see kai pātaka on every street, and not just in South Auckland.

"We have residential properties that have excess fruit on trees and nobody ever uses it, so it's just a waste.

"I would love to see this go viral because waste is a huge issue in New Zealand. But kai is also a big issue and a lot of people are not getting it."

The big-hearted Wellington woman baking cakes for kids with parents in prison

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Bridget is determined to ensure that no child misses out on the sweeter things in life. Source: Seven Sharp

Meet Wellington's Bridget, who turned her baking passion into a business and now uses it to help give back in the sweetest of ways.

The self-taught baker makes several cakes a month for the Angel Tree programme - for children with parents in prison.

"Some people don't even get birthday presents and some people don't even get birthday cakes," Bridget told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Buying one of Bridget's cakes means you're doing good by default and it's proving to be popular.

"If I make you a cake and we donate a cake to someone else, you cover the cost of both...and that's how Cake it Forward was born.

"Bridget doesn't usually get to meet the children who receive her cakes let alone deliver them herself.

Seven Sharp arranged a surprise for the kind-hearted baker and arranged for her to witness the joy her baking was bringing others.