Making Christmas wishes come true

Shoppers either leave a present under the tree or leave a donation. Photos: Sam Gardner.

It's hard to name a better combo than Christmas, Kmart, carols and cake, but that's exactly what was on offer this morning for shoppers at Kmart Bethlehem.

The spirit of giving was well and truly in the air, as the Bethlehem team officially opened their Kmart Wishing Tree appeal in a festive ceremony.

The incentive, run in partnership with the Salvation Army, is now in its 24th year and is New Zealand's largest and longest running Christmas gift appeal.

Te highlight of this morning's ceremony was a brief visit from Santa who shared with a small crowd of Salvation Army staff, store staff and shoppers about how to get involved.

The idea is those who wish to get involved can either leave a gift under the tree or make a monetary donation.

“This can be done through adding an extra sum to each purchase, purchasing a bauble tag to hang on the tree, by dropping money into any coin collection box at the register or by donating online,” says Santa.

Store manager Chris Kite says the appeal is a great initiative to be part of.

“We're proud to be part of this appeal and to help families over what can be a stressful time for some families.”

Tauranga Salvation Army community ministries manager Davina Plummer says the partnership with Kmart is helping to make a significant difference to the lives of others.

“Being able to bless families and take away the financial stress of Christmas is definitely the biggest benefit,” she says.

“It's amazing the side-effects of stress on families so to be able to take that stress away and to be able to bless them with the means to have a magnificent relaxed end to their year is beautiful.

“The gratitude is amazing and they are blown away, especially when it's practical gifts that they can use. For families who are sleeping on a mattress on the floor, to actually have their own sheets or a brand new duvet set just blows them away.

“Another great benefit of the appeal is that it means Christmas is not draining them of their money, so when they come back for school they're in a much better position,” says Davina.

Entertainment was provided by the Salvation Army band who performed a collection of Christmas favourites, followed by a number of Christmas carols sung by the in-store team.



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The moon peeping through the clouds at Pillans Point. Photo: Mike Berry.

Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. kendra@thesun.co.nz