Christmas has come and gone for another year and for many this time of joy and togetherness is often marred by stress and hardship. We have all heard of those heart wrenching stories of parents who want nothing more than to provide their children with a truly magical Christmas. Stories of mothers trying to protect their children from the social stigma of poverty turning to the last bastions of charitable services to ensure that their children don’t go without the bare necessities.
In an attempt to provide a little bit of Christmas joy and relief to those most vulnerable in our communities, the Brethren of Lodge Takahe No 397, with the assistance of The Freemasons Charity, partnered with City Harvest to provide a Christmas meal in the homes of 50 families throughout Christchurch. Working with Janice – from City Harvest – and the owners of South City New World, we were able to acquire food items that would allow these families to make a Christmas meal in their own homes (e.g. frozen chicken, stuffing, gravy, Christmas pudding etc). Purchased by Lodge Takahe this food was then supplemented with various luxury items (e.g. Lindt chocolates, plunger coffee) that had been collected by City Harvest in the weeks preceding Christmas.
To ensure that these hampers were distributed directly to the homes of those most in need throughout the entire city, the community centres who work closely with City Harvest provided Lodge Takahe with the names of families they serve. Whereby allowing Lodge Takahe to remove ourselves from the process in determining where these hampers would be gifted. This blind charity ensured that the Christmas hampers were to be delivered to those most truly in need. Even before the first of these hampers had been delivered we were already receiving fantastic feedback from the community centres, with one family who we had contacted calling the team at their local community centre to say how grateful she was that we had contacted her and that she “is now able to provide her children with a Christmas meal.”
On what would have been our usual Standing Committee evening the Brethren and wives of Lodge Takahe assembled at the City Harvest premises to pack these food hampers for distribution directly to the recipients during the second week of December. The pure sense of joy and heartfelt gratitude that flooded across the faces of the recipients when we greeted them at their door was truly moving and humbling. It is proof that charity is twice blessed, for I am sure that all those who participated in some act of giving over the holiday season has received some joy from it.
Operated by Janice and Brother John Milligan City Harvest (recipient of the 2017 Civic Award for Emerging Leaders: for service to the city and the people of Christchurch) was established to work with food retailers, supermarkets, wholesalers, restaurants, caterers, universities and other food providers to rescue un-sellable but perfectly good food. This food is then distributed throughout the Christchurch to various community and charitable outreach centres.
Photos- Joshua Jackson, Hampers and Contents