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'Some of the best of us' — Roaring success for City Mission's Christmas appeal

After a mammoth effort and what it calls unprecedented demand, the City Mission says it managed to give out hundreds of thousands of meals and thousands of presents to people in need at Christmas.

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City Missioner Chris Farrelly says as well as food parcels and presents, Kiwis were able to connect as humans. Source: Breakfast

City Missioner Chris Farrelly says New Zealanders responded in force to their appeal.

"We saw some of the best of us this Christmas," he told Breakfast this morning.

"I can't speak so much of the magnitude. The volumes we needed were huge."

In eight days, more than 9000 family food packets were distributed, with enough food in each to feed a family of four for four days.

Farrelly says it's hundreds of thousands of meals.

"That food came from people like yourselves, big corporates, manufacturers, it all came in. And from people donating, kids coming in and emptying their money boxes."

But even more crucially, Farrelly says there was a shift in how the parcels were delivered this year that made a huge difference for people.

Instead of long queues of people overnight, there was collaboration between the City Mission, three marae — Papakura, MUMA's Ngā Whare Waatea and Manurewa — Eden Park and Vision West.

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Tony Kake, of Papakura Marae where the Auckland City Mission has a donations site, says demand has been huge all year. Source: Breakfast

"What then began to happen is that people came in desperate, ashamed, embarrassed, disconnected, we were able to provide food and presents but... we also provided this other thing of being human, being connected," Farrelly says.

"When people left... they not only left with their food parcels and presents, they left feeling good about themselves and good about being in this country. That's where the magic started."

While he's pleased with the success of the appeal, there is a dark side.

"We were expecting unprecedented need, we prepared for that," Farrelly says. 

"When we started we realised that what we thought was the reality, was in fact the reality. People were going without food. Simple as that."