Feed a Family, Vinnies News Weekly

August Highlights

Coming Together to Serve

Laughter and music fills the air as the familiar sound of student volunteers go about their tasks for the afternoon. There is a renewed sense of rhythm in the foodbank which accompanied the beginning of a new school term; a season of connection and learning that many have grown to appreciate since the first lockdown in Aotearoa. In being mindful of the many families whom they seek to assist, the volunteers also recognised their longing for a relational connection which devices and social media could only provide so much of.

Auckland Catholic Young Adults Community

This spirit of connection has manifested itself in countless foodparcels being prepared each day – delivered by staff and wider volunteer groups across the city. Students from primary schools have mobilised their communities to provide an array of non-perishable foods for donations. Those who are in high school have also made use of their hospitality suites to prepare bulk meals and lending an extra hand in making foodparcels onsite. A number of university students, young adults and families have also proved invaluable in assessing need distributing these parcels to families in need.

Six days a week, the foodbank has been a powerhouse of activity with over 500 foodparcels made each day. At beginning of the month, the SVdP foodbank was fortunate to have the support of the Catholic Young Adults Collective and the Auckland Catholic Tertiary crew in making these parcels. Each time these young men and women attended was an opportunity to build upon the learnings of prior weeks, as well the significant insights they gained throughout the lockdown. The existing learnings proved invaluable to establishing a context upon which new relationships were formed.

The implications of COVID-19 upon the youth team engaging with students in schools has been significant. In the short-term, the youth team have had to overhaul the realities of day-to-day teaching, leading in-depth reflections and activities to learn about those whom the students will assist. Access to online platforms such as facebook and phones have proven important in this regard to ensure students feel a sense of connection and formation. Notably, there have also been much wider, ongoing impacts. The extended closure of schools and rise in need for food parcels across the city has brought forth a new wave of understanding about those who struggle to put food on the table. As schools returned to in-person teaching at the beginning of the month, the youth team had an opportunity to align these learnings to a more informed approach in how the in-school curriculum is led. It has initiated a space to ask the bigger questions about the community; namely, what does support look and feel like amidst a reality of food insecurity? The youth team were able to engage in some of these discussions in meaningful ways a number of times before the second lockdown announcement.

For many who volunteer at the foodbank, the insights which are gained find resonance – often when it is least expected. Sometimes it’s an immediate impact, sometimes it arises from a small comment or action during the day of service. Often it resonates at the crossroads where others are also seeking the answers to the lessons before them. Upon the threshold where the need is both realised and acted upon; many have learnt the gift of community, and what it truly means to support one another.

Prior to the second lockdown, the Vinnies young adults were able to host a number of meals for wahine at Auckland City Mission. These were sorely missed during the first lockdown, and many who attended these nights enjoyed the opportunities for conversation, music, dancing and being present to one another. A key learning that this service has brought about is that accompaniement bridges the distance between people, no matter their walk of life. It is walking, gently, intentionally and compassionately with one another.

Navigating Lockdown Together

As part of this month in review, Auckland Vinnies takes you through a deeper insight into the day-to-day movements of their response to the calls of those in need, particularly in the wake of Covid-19.

Day One

If pictures could speak a thousand words, then it would not be enough to contain the immensity of care and compassion that unfolded throughout the month of August. Upon the announcement of a second lockdown, there was a familiar sense of uncertainty, grief and hope as the team gathered to prepare for the unfolding reality as they did earlier in the year. Mindful of the many lessons from the previous months, staff and volunteers alike prayed and planned for what would be an insightful few weeks ahead. As the phones began to ring and the families seek support; the team knew that those few moments together would steer them in good stead.

Team gathers in preparation for the second lockdown

Day Two

A level 3 lockdown meant that the Vinnies foodbank was closed to the public. In a space that values the face-to-face relationality of interactions, this proved a difficult reality to navigate initially. As planned in the first lockdown, all referrals were soon taken up through phone and email, with all pick-ups collected by social workers who had pre-booked. A faithful team of workers were at the phones and computers throughout the day to receive requests for foodparcels, and more importantly, connect with the families that were in need. For the remainder of foodparcels, this invevitably meant that a slick delivery process was needed. At the crack of dawn, the team delivered close to 200 foodparcels and stopped to collect an array of PPE for oncoming essential workers and volunteers. Other key members of the team spent most of the morning making food deliveries to Mt Wellington and Auckland City Mission. Between organising the foodbank database, delivering bulk parcels and connecting with various members of the community, the team slowly found a sense of rhythm.

Day Three

The team rose again bright and early to process and push out a further 400 foodboxes from the SVdP foodbank. There orders arose from a number of affiliated social services as well as personal referrals. A core team of volunteers were on hand to receive truckloads of donated bulk supplies from Pandoro Panneteria. The foodbank was abuzz with activity; the forkhoist moving in constant motion to prepare outgoing pallets of goods. There was a constant ebbing and flowing of resources coming in from various suppliers which were then distrbuted to families almost as fast as it arrived. The foodbank proved significant in this regard to ensure a seamless packing process for these varied goods. The day concluded with the packing and delivering of another 150 parcels which were destined for West Auckland.

Day Four

Beyond the foodbank, a number of core volunteers ensure that food parcels are ready in time and in spec for families in need. Young men and women from CYAC and Gather have been pivotal in picking up bulk dry good supplies, packing these in their bubble with appropriate PPE before dropping these off to the Vinnies foodbank. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul were also grateful to receive constant top-up donations from suppliers such as Good Farms, Kahui Te Kaha, KiwiHarvest and Scalini throughout the day to ensure families were getting a variety of quality, nutritous meals.

Day Six

With a single day to reorganise and recuperate, the first day of the week proved both challenging and fulfilling. The foodbank was in a constant whirlwind of action: the phones on gridlock and the notifications that an email had arrived were constant reminders that a family somewhere in the community was needing a helping hand. The team worked long and hard throughout the day to ensure families were getting the support they needed. The faithful group packed foodparcels all day long and into the night until midnight to ensure that there was enough prepared for the anticipated Tuesday rush.

Day Eight

The journey proved impossible, if not for the assistance of countless families who took turns in their ‘bubbles’ to prepare and distribute foodparcels throughout the community. This provided a much needed breather for the team who worked the night prior. The calls and emails continued to come through, with many voicing their concerns for where their next meal might come from.

Day Nine

The start of a new day saw a number of enthusiastic volunteers come through to support the preparation of food parcels. There were many moments of laughter and joy as the team got to work on filling each pallet with food. From the rising of the sun until the night, the foodbank moved like clockwork: each parcel put together with the health of the families at the forefront of each packers mind. A volunteer remarked that it was no longer the quantity of foodparcels that mattered, but the quality of what was going into it and what families truly needed at the time.

Day Ten

The bonds formed over the last week alone were such that it could only be described as meaningful, heartfelt and gospel-called. The team at the foodbank moved in sync with one another, moving from each task to the next with efficiency. From receving deliveries, to packing foodparcels, distributing, recycling unused items and preparing the space to do it all over again several times throughout the day.

Day Eleven

The Mother of Divine Mercy Collective have supported the Society of St Vincent de Paul throughout the lockdown to deliver hundreds of fooparcels to families. The Mother of Divine Mercy operate a Women’s Refuge and are a close longtime supporter and foodbank satellite of Vinnies. They had two of their family bubbles turn up to safely process more boxes. On this day, they decided to give the team a hand at putting these food parcels together. In the week that had past, the Vinnies collective were hard pressed to keep up with demand, including pre-ordered requests for food support. Through their hardwork they were able to help the foodbank process over 1,000 boxes. With this added layer of support, the team were now in a stronger position to reconnect with families face to face as well as supporting the Vinnies youth school programme to ease into sourcing and preparing food for the following week.

Day Thirteen

Thanks to the strong presence and support of the Mother of Divine Mercy Collective during the day prior, the day proved quiet as the team dedicated more time and energy to other important tasks. Two volunteers dropped in to carefully pack a few fresh produce boxes destined for families later that day. The sense of peace was a welcome reality in the wake of lockdown journey so far.

Day Fourteen

The lockdown has provided an opportunity for many core volunteers to contribute in meaningful ways towards those who need assistance. A number of these volunteers have been part of the schools programme growing up, journeying alonside people from varying walks of life. Between picking up truckloads of supplies, hoisting and packing bulk food; these young men and women have come to a greater understanding of how their contributions make a difference. Many have stressed how rewarding it is to meet new people and put what they have learnt in life into practice. One volunteer remarked on the experience of getting a call about thirteen families from a local church community who had gone into isolation awaiting their COVID19 test results. They needed food support urgently. Without delay they assembled a drive out with foodparcels from SVdP to provide assistance to these families. That same day on the other side of the city, Fr Martin assembled a few parishioners of St Joachim’s Parish to collect and redistribute bulk produce for people across the community.

Day Fifteen

While the team were out in force delivering or restributiong resources to those in need, the foodbank was getting a much needed upgrade. With the support of generous donors, a new walk-in freezer was able to be installed onsite. This important addition to the facility will prove invaluable to maintaining fresh produce before it is redistributed to families. The upgrade has long been awaited in the wake of rising demand for food parcels, and in particular, items which are fresh and nutritious.

Day Sixteen

Before the day drew to a close, a poignant reminder of why Vinnies do the things they do came to the forefront by way of a gift. A family member who was supported shares:

“Here is something I made to hang in your window to catch the sunlight each morning and remind you of the hope we have in one another. My daughters and I don’t have much to give but we really want to say thank you. I make little things I can sell online as I have little work at the moment and my health isn’t too great because of the stress. I want you to know that these foodboxes literally saved us through those weeks. It’s been really hard for my girls because like me, it runs in the family. They are both immuno-compromised as well and the lockdown has been especially tough on them as they see their friends working as essential services. They want to be out there too. They feel powerless and excluded from it all…”

Day Seventeen

On this day, the Brown Pride NZ collective offered their support in packing food boxes and other general tasks across the foodbank. One of the volunteers reflected:

“It was a good reality check. Sometimes i think we take our lives for granted. Delivering to those in need … it was humbling. We think sometimes we’re struggling, our lives are hard, but then we see that and then you realize you’re blessed. So it was good to see that. It was good for me, to just be humble again.”

While the level three lockown comes to an end, the team are mindful that the need for families to put food on the table continues. The past seventeen days provided a tremendous space of insight and growth, and it is through this spirit of learning that the Society of St Vincent de Paul seek to accompany those in need within the community.

Vinnies News Weekly

July Highlights

Nurturing Relationships

Across Auckland, numerous student groups, volunteer collectives and staff members have been abuzz with activity. July saw the return of students to secondary schools, which necessitated a space to reconnect and map out service projects for the remainder of the year. Mindful that these students have had minimal interaction with one another since before lockdown, this presented a perfect opportunity to recognise and nurture the relationships that have already been formed.

Other schools such as Stanhope School continued to see a need in their community, and decided to do their part in supporting those in need. With the support of family and staff, the students hosted a Pyjama mufti day to raise money for families who are struggling to put food on the table.

The fortnightly ministry at Mt Eden Corrections facility resumed at the beginning of July, ushering in a renewed sense of connection for those who are incarcerated. Every two weeks, a dedicated group of volunteers lead karakia (prayers) and kōrero (conversations) that are both spirit-led and thought provoking. The reality of Covid-19 meant that many inmates were further disconnected from much needed relationships as families were not. permitted to visit those in prison. This was an added layer of isolation that proved difficult for all. Those who volunteer at the corrections facility recognise this and have had many insightful conversations with those residing inside.

As the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 unfold, we know that the most vulnerable in our communities are most affected. For people suffering illness, frailness or other forms of social isolation in particular, such groups may also experience food insecurity regardless of their financial means, due to an inability to either purchase or prepare adequate food as a result of their condition. This has affected the ability of families to acquire and consume a nutritious diet, including the ability to buy and transport food, home storage, preparation and cooking facilities, knowledge and skills to make appropriate choices; and the time as well as mobility to shop for and prepare food. 

In support thousands of families throughout the last month, we know that this issue is also systemic, and speaks to broader issues such as low wages, precarious working environments as well as the supply of food within a community which influences the food security of individuals and households alike. In either instance, the fact remains that thousands of families across New Zealand are food insecure with extreme hunger—where meals are often missed or inadequate. We have been fortunate to have a number of youth groups, families and individuals come through to the Vinnies foodback to offer support. It has been insightful to witness the relentless source of love and compassion that these men and women have for the welfare of those in need. If not for their enthusiasm and much needed assistance, the Society of St Vincent de Paul would not have been able to meet the high demand for foodparcel assistance throughout July.

The nutritional aspect of food security is often overlooked in favour of simply ensuring people are eating regular meals. The Society of St Vincent de Paul have been fortunate to be affliated with other organisations such as KiwiHarvest who ensure that there is a steady source of fresh fruit and veges for families in need. These go a long way to bolstering family health as the products are good quality food items which compliment the non-perishable food items already present in foodparcels.

Families who do not have access to private and/or public transport can have difficulties getting their grocery shopping home. A number of student groups have been working alongside the Vinnies Youth team to deliver foodparcels to communities. This ensures that families who cannot readily access foodparcels or have specific family needs can be better supported. Students and staff alike remark that these moments are significant in that there is sustained face to face interactions. These moments humanise the reality of food insecurity – bringing to the forefront the importance of relationships and nurturing meaningful connections.

With the return of school programmes across Auckland, a number of student groups have resumed cooking bulk meals for families after school. These cooking programmes are significant in that they improve cooking skills, nutritional knowledge, meal planning, budgeting and shopping habits, whilst also ensuing families have greater access to essential food sources which are healthy and filling.  The students involved have remarked that these platforms provide a sense of community building and wellbeing bolstering due to the social aspect of the project. 

Alongside the secondary school programme, a number of women from the young adults group have resumed hosting meals for wahine that are homeless within the Auckland CBD. During nights that have been both rainy and chilling, a hot meal and opportunity for conversation has brought warmth to many who participate. Many connections were formed prior to the covid-19 lockdown, and so the weekly connect ins over a hot meal have made for some heartfelt moments of laughter and story-telling.

In each of these spaces, the Society of St Vincent de Paul have experienced the inherent strength of whanaungatanga (relationship nurturing) when seeking to support those in need, as well as within the organisation itself. There have been countless moments of speechlessness, challenge, calls to action and peaceful encounters which interweave to inform the community as shown above. July has also provided many opportunities to engage in dialogues about how to best move forward alongside those whom the Auckland Vinnies operations are sharing the journey with. As a new month unfolds, the Society of St Vincent de Paul recognise that relationships will be key to navigating the spaces of unfamiliarity ahead.

Vinnies News Weekly

March Highlights

Reflecting, Serving & Connecting

At the beginning of this school term, students from across Auckland put their hands up and said ‘YES’ to upholding the dignity of their community members through meaningful service. In many cases they mobilised their peers and wider student body, engaging in challenging conversations around food insecurity, homelessness, incarceration and social exclusion.

Prior to the lockdown, a number of schools took their learning to the next level and partipated in bulk cooking programmes for families in need. This entailed preparing large amounts of nutritionous meals to accompany food parcels for families and individuals in need. The colleges of De La Salle, Rosmini and Carmel were among the first to begin this work of service, contributing a significant amount of time aside from their studies to ensure less people go hungry.

The students of Baradene College also sought to make a difference for families; organising a school wide food drive. Over $5,000 worth of non perishable food items were donated. Prior to the lockdown, this provided a much needed boost for foodbanks across Auckland.

Each of these works of service proved immensely pivotal with getting students connected to their communities. Amidst the realities of the current Covid-19 lockdown, these young men and women were able to faithfully support those struggling to make ends meet. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to serve left an impression on the Auckland Vinnies team, who have continued the journey of service up to now.

We Are in This Together

As the lockdown continues amidst the global pandemic caused by covid-19, families are balancing the roles of helping to prevent disease transmission whilst also ensuring there is enough food to put on the table. A number of foodbanks run by various non-for profit collectives have closed across the country since the lockdown announcement. Foodbanks such as those operated by Auckland Society of St Vincent de Paul branches have been working overtime to keep families fed during the covid-19 pandemic. In response to this, a number of young adults have stepped up to offer any support they can. In anticipation of the growing need within the community, bulk chillers and freezers were connected and made ready for the incoming bulk food for the Vinnies foodbank. Between receiving stock, organising the foodbank and preparing logistics, these men and women would find time to fill in foodparcel requests for the Auck CBD, wider community areas as well as family lists from Social workers.

 The realities of the covid-19 have been realised none more so than in our communities. Amidst calls to ensure the health and safety of families across the country, food has become even more important as both comfort and source of nutrition during this time of grief and healing. The unfolding of the lockdown has since called into question how Aotearoa as a nation might be able to ward off a food crisis that is pandemic-related. In response to this, young adults have been operating Foodbank Satellites from their homes all over Auckland. The bulk stock is dropped off to their homes and they are given lists of deliveries in their local area. Within the last few weeks alone there has been a steep surge in requests coming in from families needing support. This has meant an increase of teams and added precautions around social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing and sterilizing. The team of staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to process orders and pack boxes to meet the demand.

Health and wellbeing is influenced heavily by what and how we eat. The ability to consume food that is nutritional and accessible has become undermined by the intertwining of numerous realities. The reality for many families is that job security has been shaken, and in some cases rendered absent altogether. There are utility payments that still need to be paid. There are growing health care needs amongst those who live in homes with poor insulation. There are those who have isolated themselves in sickness with little to no access to support. While food is a significant need, many families have sorely missed the opportunities for face to face conversations or having someone there to hear their story.

The Auckland Vinnies team recognise that now, more than ever, solidarity, compassion and prayers will be what builds resilience against food insecurity. It is well known amongst the staff and volunteers of SVdP that upholding dignity through meaningful relationships will be key to ensuring that families do not go without during their time of need.

Vinnies News Weekly

February Highlights

The Gift of Whanaungatanga

Whanaungatanga is about building long-lasting relationships. It also about whānau and communities working together. This allows for collectives to make decisions and act in ways that support sustainable growth. At the Society of St Vincent de Paul centre in Auckland Central, the new space has allowed for new connections to be made and nurtured. Alongside having a foodbank and advocacy hub, the facility has created opportunities for hospitality, both for those in need as well as those who volunteer. In Auckland we are fortunate to have such a diverse and talented volunteer base. This is further strengthened by the countless leaders, mentors and wider family groups who continue to support the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Across all age groups, these individuals have been the back-bone of the Society; assisting those who are homeless, those who are incarcerated, those who are elderly and isolated, the hungry and the marginalised. Recently, a number of volunteers from across the high school and tertiary programmes in particular gathered for an evening of whanaungatanga, so as to share in the joys of their service and bring together their experiences. The Society is grateful for these amazing people who live out kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) connections.

Secondary School & Tertiary Programme Volunteers
Sisters of St Joseph with Vinnies Centre Staff

Students Leading the Way in their Communities

As part of the Secondary Schools programme, emphasis is placed on giving students as much opportunity to develop their leadership skills as possible. The Auckland Vinnies Youth Team also recognise that these are some of the most important years for student volunteers. The invitation therefore is to sustain programmes which are thought-provoking, meaningful and fun. In essense, it is about providing the tools for these young men and women to navigate their service and faith journeys together. It has been insightful connecting in with student leaders from across Auckland recently, as they have varying hopes and needs for the year ahead. There is a sense of excitement as they lay out their plans for service within the community; laughter as they consider how to live into their roles amidst school work and other commitments. Irrespective of where they are placed for the year, there is an underlying hope that they will complete 2020 with a greater understanding of the communities in need as well as their call to support.

Earlier in the month, the Auckland Vinnies Youth Team had the opportunity to meet up with the entire Year 12 student cohort of Marist College. It was moving to lead a session on Catholic Social Teaching within a space brimming with passionate students. The purpose of this visit was to bring to life the ways in which the Society of St Vincent de Paul practice these teachings. It was also an opportunity for students to assess how they understand needs within the community and how they inform the decisions they make around assistance.

Sharing a Meal with the Community

Auckland City Mission is a hub in the heart of the city, providing a source of support for those without a home, those with addictions and those struggling to put food on the table. In 2019 alone City Mission distributed 23,000 emergency food parcels to families and individuals in desperate need. They were able to house over 50 people through housing first, provide 17,000 medical consultations to vulnerable, high-needs patients; and admit 354 people to residential drug & alcohol detoxification. At the centre of their services is a recognition of peoples dignity and the significance of compassionate care. The Society of St Vincent de Paul is grateful for the opportunity to journey alongside other organisations that support the community. The tuesday night shared meal for wahine continues to run strong, with many volunteers from the Society taking part. This is a space for women to cook a hearty dinner and connect in with other women who do not have a place to call home. It is the spirit of conversation and sharing stories that make these mealtimes so memorable.

Experiential Learning Through Service

The Society of St Vincent de Paul recognise the importance of seeing a need, reflecting on how to address it and acting in a way that upholds the dignity of people at all stages. By providing a space for new volunteers to learn what service looks like, this has brought forth a wealth of knowledge in terms of culture, servant leadership, and vulnerability. The Vinnies Centre in Auckland Central has been fortunate to host a number of groups seeking to learn about the community and the significance of leadership. Unibound assisted the Vinnies Centre staff with making bulk food parcels as well as packing and sorting care packs. Throughout these processes, the prospective students learn about the needs of the community and why these services are so important.

Journeying with Those who are Incarcerated

Volunteering at Mt Eden Corrections facility has provided an insightful experience for those involved. Operating at almost full capacity, over 1,000 people are currently incarcerated at this facility. Though the chaplaincy volunteers do not get to meet all of these individuals, they seek to create meaningful encounters with those whom they serve. Regardless of where the offender or victim has come from, each has their own story from which they may gain wisdom from. Taking place on a fortnightly basis, the volunteers involved lead a liturgy of the word; providing a space for sharing in kōrero (conversation) and waiata (song). These experiences are significant as they provide an opportunity for reflection and compassionate understanding. Yvonne, a key leader of the Vinnies volunteers has been serving in this ministry for over five years. Prior to this, she has led the way in countless other ministries and youth groups. Her care and compassion has inspired many other volunteers and has especially had a significant influence on those who are in prison. It with sadness that Yvonne has since moved abroad for the next chapter of her journey. The Society of St Vincent de Paul recognises her contribution to the community and wishes her the best in the years to come.

Vinnies News Weekly

January Highlights

For Wāhine, by Wāhine

To bring about connection through face to face and a safe space for wahine to gather over the kitchen table for a home cooked meal. There is also the concern for food and nutrition security for all people, there has been a call for more effective and equitable food assistance; particularly for women in need within Auckland.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul, the Auckland Citymission, Salvation Army amongst many other Charitable organisations works hard to achieve this through their different community programmes. 

Last September ,the Vinnies collaborated with the Auckland Citymission leaders and members of Te Miringa Trust to roll out a new initiative to care for the wahine who need a safe space to gather, have nutritious kai and have face to face conversations.

As part of the new initiative,the female volunteers from Vinnies and Te Miringa Trust volunteer alternatively every Tuesday to provide manakitanga (hospitality) through the preparing of and sharing of a three course  evening dinner. The venue is provided by Auckland City Mission, who also provide the kitchen facilities and the food to prepare. Over the weeks the numbers of participants have steadily increased from four to around fourty. The feedback has been very positive and there is an expectation that these numbers will continue to increase steadily.

The simple act of sharing in a dinner breaks down barriers and provides an opportunity for new connections to be made. In this safe and positive environment, the Vinnies Youth Volunteers continue to nurture deep and meaningful relationships with those present. This weekly project will continue to unfold over the coming year.

Caring for Those Who are Incarcerated

Each year over nine thousand people pass through the Auckland prisons. Within Mt Eden Corrections Facility alone, there are currently 1,040 men who are incarcerated. This number is expected to increase in the coming months as the new prison wings are opened for use following a facility upgrade in 2019. Regardless of the number of those who reside in Auckland prisons, a group of volunteers have been faithfully leading ministry for the men. Among them are some of the Vinnies Youth collective who dedicate their Sunday mornings to leading a liturgy of the word. This involves a reflection on the Word for the day, as well as sharing in prayer and song.

Vinnies Youth Volunteers

The unfolding of this ministry is not possible without the guidance and support of the prison chaplaincy team at Mt Eden Corrections facility. This team has been pivotal in providing chaplaincy support for inmates; particularly when navigating times of family illnesses, deaths, crisis, tragedies and celebrations. Recently the Vinnies volunteers who lead ministry met with the chaplains to prepare for the year ahead. It is hoped that this team will continue to grow and live into the roles set before them.

Prison Chaplaincy Team Meet with Vinnies Volunteers

Making Meals for the Multitudes: Youth Volunteers make Foodparcels for Families

Many people can go to the supermarket and purchase the food they need, but not everyone can get enough healthy food easily. This is part of the issue of food insecurity. As such, a sense of insecurity can vary from family to family. In response to a growing need for nutritionous and filling meals within Auckland, a diverse group of volunteers have been assisting the Society of St Vincent de Paul with making bulk food parcels. Some of the volunteers have also assisted in the making of labels, restocking the foodbank and filling up shampoo and detergent bottles destined for families.

This assistance comes at a welcome time as the number of families seeking assistance has all but decreased since the end of a busy Christmas season in 2019. The volunteers have been a source of energy and enthusiasm as they have seen and filled a need within the community. It is hoped that the parcels which they have made will go a long way to making sure that fewer families go hungry this month.

Vinnies News Weekly

November Highlights

Tu Kahikatea Awards 2019

Each year, the local Diocese and Auckland Catholic Youth Ministry present the Tu Kahikatea Awards. This award is named after the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference statement – Tu Kahikatea: Standing Tall.As such, the Tu Kahikatea awards recognise the gift that youth bring to their families, schools, parish, as well as the wider community around them. It is also about recognising and affirming them for their outstanding contribution to those in need. A number of youth were called forward to receive a gift and blessing, some of whom were involved with Vinnies Youth Auckland over the past few years.

Vinnies Youth Recipients of Tu Kahikatea Award 2019:

  • Chris Tenisio 
  • Lemalie Aukuso 
  • Theresa Filipo 
  • Daniel Pavihi
  • Ivona Tamiano 
  • Fiva Laufili

Each Award indicates the Tu Kahikatea component for which the young person is being recognised. The eight areas components are: 

  • ·  Advocacy 
  • ·  Justice and Service 
  • ·  Catechesis 
  • ·  Leadership Development 
  • ·  Community Life 
  • ·  Pastoral Care 
  • ·  Evangelisation 
  • ·  Prayer and Worship 

The mass was celebrated by Monsignor Bernard Kiely, who led a poignant message about servanthood and leading with a compassionate spirit. Regardless of the component each awardee contributed towards for the Tu Kahikatea award, they were acknowledged for leading the way for compassion within the Catholic church. Families and friends were present to support their loved ones as they celebrated this significant event. 

Tu Kahikatea Awardees 2019

Final School Visits 2019

As the academic year draws to a close, the Youth Team have been wrapping up the schools programme. Recently they had the privilege of connecting in with the Vinnies of St Mary’s and De La Salle College to give thanks for a year of service. These schools have carried the charism if St Vincent de Paul with humility and love. De La Salle Vinnies in particular were recognised for their faithful service at the South Auckland Foodbank. It was here that they attended each week without fail to cook bulk meals for local families. As the exam season unfolds, the Society of St Vincent de Paul wish to give thanks for the care that the youth have put into their year of service.

The Vincentian Way

If asked to consider the three main characteristics of their lived spirituality, many Vincentians would probably say that they were compassion, friendship and prayer. The Society of St Vincent de Paul in Auckland are fortunate to have Vincentians such as Claire Murphy, as well as Gerald & Heather Hart who for many years have empathized emotionally with people who suffer as a result of material or spiritual poverty. They have led the way for the youth of today through deeds of mercy and action for justice. As in days of old with the Daughters of Charity, these same Vincentians have fostered numerous friendships through a sense of mutual respect and care. This, in a sense has become the lived experience of their prayer:  to encounter and assist the same Christ in the poor. Auckland Vinnies Youth are grateful for these elders who have provided governance, funded, supported and helped sustain the Vinnies youth programme over the last 25 + years. The Auckland Vinnies youth team and young adult members are very grateful and moved by their commitment and servant leadership. 

Left to right: Claire, Gerard & Heather

Working Together to Support the Community

The Society of St Vincent de Paul are grateful for partnerships with organisations such as KiwiHarvest who help to ensure that families don’t go without food in their home. To date KiwiHarvest have been responsible for redistributing 3,200,000 kilos of quality food which would otherwise be discarded as waste. Their assistance is significant as they seek to reduce the negative impacts of food waste within Aotearoa whilst also providing nutrient rich sources of food for those in need. The food is sourced from a number of growers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retail food businesses; which is then added to foodparcels destined for a home.

KiwiHarvest dropping off food ready for redistribution

The Christmas Appeal Begins!

Recently the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Auckland launched the annual Christmas ‘Feed a Family’ Appeal for those in need. This appeal is particularly for the families that we have journeyed alongside throughout the year. The team have already begun sorting and getting to work on the database of names which have been compiled. 

Last year, the Vinnies centre was inundated with requests for food by families and individuals, from those living alone and/or in emergency housing facilities. We are hopeful that through the generous donations of the ‘Feed a Family’ appeal we will be better equipped to support those who seek our assistance. We give thanks for the generous donors and volunteers who are making this Christmas appeal happen.

Happy Birthday Robert!

The Gundry Foodbank wishes to give thanks for Robert, who recently celebrated his 73rd birthday! Robert has been of invaluable service to the Society of St Vincent de Paul beginning his journey in 2004 and serving faithfully for over 15 years. He was an active volunteer in the Kingsland opshop and assisting with the pick up and logistics of goods for families; now having a hand in ensuring the foodbank at Gundry runs smoothly. The Society of St Vincent de Paul thanks Robert for his long service and wish him good health on the journey ahead.

Volunteering in varying ministries within Vinnies Youth has brought forth new ways understanding, of valuing one another, as well as a nurturing of love and respect. Whether in prisons, hospitals or with those who have no place to call home; a number of volunteers have made a pledge to committ to something larger than themselves – by committing to give back in whatever way they can. Each week, volunteers at the prison lead a minstry of the word: providing first and foremost a space for those who are incarcerated to connect and pray together. Those who volunteer in the hospitals provide care for patients attending Sunday mass, making the time to take patients back and from their room. The true gift of this encounter are the conversations and healing that unfold. Lastly, the Auckland City Mission host a weekly cook-up for women who lack a home in the Auckland CBD. The women involved enjoy a hot and scrumptious food together; trading stories and laughter into the evening. Each of these ministries in turn have brought various community together, and so the Society of St Vincent de Paul wish to acknowledge the countless hours contributed towards the betterment of others.

Vinnies News Weekly

October Highlights

Giving Thanks for the Journey

A number of High School Vinnies groups are gathering for the last time this year to reflect and celebrate their journey for 2019. The Youth Team alongside a number of Vincentians have been visiting each of these groups in turn to present awards of service recognition. These awards acknowledge the countless hours spent in projects, awareness programmes and connections made with those around them. Staff of these school groups were also acknowledged as they were invaluable in ensuring that these young men and women reach their full potential in the work of service.

It has been a fulfilling journey for these young men and women as they have journeyed with many different people throughout their community. In addition to this they have taken part on many awareness workshops where they have been challenged about their views on society. The Youth Team brought these experiences to the forefront in their final reflections; providing a space for the students to feedback the insights of their volunteering. On behalf of all whom these students seek to assist, the Society of St Vincent de Paul give thanks. 

Long Service Acknowledgement at Sacred Heart College

The Society also gives special thanks to Margaret Ward of Sacred Heart College  who has been the teacher in charge of the Sacred Heart Vinnies group for over 10 years. She will be stepping down from this role and will be sorely missed. Margaret has been an invaluable source love and care. As a Vincentian she has guided many students on their service journey, many of whom have continued this long after high school.

Cooking and Connecting

Homelessness is complex and results from multiple factors. Recent studies show that the most at-risk groups include those with mental health issues or alcohol and drug addictions, as well as those experiencing family violence. The reality of this social issue is that it is increasingly affecting groups who have not traditionally been at risk. At the Auckland City Mission a number of young women have been leading the way in creating space spaces for cooking and connecting in with those without a place to call home. Each week the collective host a dinner at Auckland City Mission for women. They take the time to prepare the meals by hand and spend time with the women who come in for the dinner. The Young Vinnies involved recognise the gift that comes from face to face interaction, as well as the power of sharing in stories, laughter and song. This project alongside others throughout Auckland are designed to ensure that people feel a sense of welcome and belonging wherever they be on their life journey.

A New Season

Recently the staff of Vinnies at the Newton centre bid farewell to Mary Masters who has journeyed alongside the team since February 2019. She has been helpful and skilled in her role as the financial administrator. Mary has been a wonderful addition to our team and will be sorely missed. The Society of St Vincent de Paul gives thanks for her work, her love and presence.

A Year of Service

As a way to end their academic year before entering the exam season, the Vinnies of Carmel and Rosmini College gathered for one final service project. In the space of a couple of hours, these young men and women whipped up a meal to feed over 150 people. This meal will soon be distributed to local families in need. The school groups have learnt throughout the year about the significance of food insecurity, as well as the impact of their service projects. The students involved hope to inspire those in younger years to follow their lead and care for the community as lovingly as they have.

Journeying with Those who are Incarcerated

At times, the volunteers who lead prison ministry at Mt Eden Corrections are overwhelmed by the range of problems they hear of New Zealanders who speak of their encounters with the criminal justice system. Time and time again there are narratives of pain, brokenness and intergenerational suffering. The Vinnies who lead this ministry recognise that finding solutions to the problems they have heard are not simple. This is a reality that is acknowledged and where hope of the ministry stems from. Amidst the narratives of brokenness, there has been an equally powerful presence of whānau, understanding, love and a growing sense of belonging that comes through healing past hurts. This ministry has invited people from all walks of life to work together and have trust in one another’s ability. With delicacy and care, the Vinnies involved hope to provide a space of spirituality and peace for others. These allow for the taking up of responsibility for past wrongs and to begin to deal with a legacy of social neglect. 

Vinnies News Weekly

September Highlights

Beginning a New Chapter

For over 25 years, the Kingsland Vinnies Centre has served countless families within Auckland. It has been home and haven to a thriving food bank, opshop and youth office; each of which has created a space for people to come together and grow.  As the journey at the Kingsland Centre comes to a close, it is fitting that the impact of these services are now brought to the forefront.

Kingsland Vinnies Centre

Kingsland Foodbank

Food insecurity is a challenge that no New Zealand family should have to experience. However, this has not been the case in Aotearoa.

In households with children, this form of insecurity is evident when adults or children has no reliable access to adequate food. It occurs in cases where caregivers feel anxious about where the next meal will come from, or are forced to rely on charity or emergency assistance programmes. Within Aotearoa, food insecurity is largely the result of a lack of sufficient money for food, although other socio-cultural factors play a role.

The Kingsland Foodbank recognises the importance of nutritional and accessible food, particularly for families in need. The team are aware that through the simple provision of foodbanks, this can address, at the very least the possible adverse health, development and education consequences.

On a typical day, anywhere between 10 and 20 families seek food assistance. These families come from all walks of life. Some live in the most deprived neighbourhoods, others with a primary caregiver on the benefit, and others who live with a sole parent. Regardless of their situation, the team provide a space where the stories of these families can be heard, and where necessary, the right avenues of support advised.

The Kingsland Vinnies Centre have been fortunate to have had a strong foodbank management team. Some of these young men and women have volunteered for over 20 years. They have provided countless hours in sorting, packing and organising dispatch of food parcels. They have walked alongside thousands of families and helped create a community of sharing.

Kingsland Vinnies Opshop

The Opshop in Kingsland has been pivotal in bringing people together within the local community. Aside from providing low-cost clothing, furniture and household items, the shop volunteers have provided a warm smile and inviting conversation for all who walk through the door. Each day the men and women involved ensure that the stock are set out nicely, and also assist the foodbank in putting together food parcels.

The older volunteers enjoy having the students around, who often share stories of their Vinnies experience. Elders need accompaniment, but the lack of understanding in needs and worries often cause a divide between them and the younger generation. The Opshop bridges this divide by creating an open space of positivity and hospitality.

A benefit of having an opshop near central Auckland has been the opportunities created for local young vinnies from high schools. These provide a platform for youth to see firsthand where their donations go towards. In learning through experience the students build upon their values and form lasting bonds that translate to stronger acts of service for the wider community.

Kingsland Youth Offices

Alongside the foodbank and opshop, the youth office has created opportunities for young people to be involved in shaping and driving the Vinnies Youth Programme in Auckland. It has been a space where creativity and oppeness could be nurtured. This provided the space for the services of the Kingsland Centre to become directly intertwined with the development of services and programmes for youth.

As the centre for the development of Auckland Vinnies Youth, the team has sought to create a feeling of connectedness to others and to wider society. Each year, the youth programme has grown, ensuring that those being served feel positive and comfortable with their own identity.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul have been privileged with the expertise and energy of many young men and women over the years. They have brought with them a strong sense of family and whānau, and brought the charism to life within schools, communities as well as their own peer groups. The Youth Offices have been spaces of connection, prayer and hope for the future of the Society.

The Auckland Vinnies operations have since moved to Gundry St, Newton. The foodbank and youth programmes will continue to run at the new facility, congruent with the many memories and stories shared at their previous location.

For our Wahine: Supporting One Another Through Connection

It is estimated that 1 in 100 people within New Zealand are homeless. Based on the street count, it’s estimated there were approximately 800 people unsheltered across Auckland on September 17, 2018. Approximately 48 percent of these people are wahine (women) who have no choice but to sleep it rough or live in precarious, transitional housing. There are countless stories of vulnerability, of suffering from harassment, violence and abuse. There is a pervading sense of anxiety for those who have no place to call home. Women often have to either keep to themselves, band together or have a partner to ensure their safety.

In response to the harsh realities of homelessness within Auckland, Vinnies have been meeting with Auckland Citymission leaders and members of Te Miringa Trust to roll out a new initiative to care for the wahine who need a safe space to relax, have dinner and just to be with other women.

As part of the new initiative, female volunteers from Vinnies and Te Miringa Trust volunteer each Tuesday to provide manakitanga (hospitality) through the hosting of an evening dinner.

The venue is provided by Auckland City Mission, who also provide the kitchen facilities and array of ingredients. A team of 6 Vinnies work diligently to prepare a hot scrumptious meal of “Fusion food”, designed to be nutritionous and filling.

Through a simple dinner, the these women are invited to form close connections with one another, to share experiences of women who have been there, done that; who know that connection building isn’t simply one and done. But rather, about nurturing healthy relationships and banding together as a family.

Loaves and Fishes: Making Food Matter

In response to learning about food insecurity within Aotearoa/ New Zealand, a number of schools continue to show they care through food appeals and cooking programmes. These initiatives have been aimed at supporting local families in need. In providing the neccessary items to make a meal, these allow families the space to focus on other aspects of wellbeing in order to become more secure.

The large amount of canned goods received over the last few weeks have been distributed to foodbanks across the city, with pre-cooked meals being prepared and provided to families in their respective communities. The Society of St Vincent de Paul would like to thank the many Young Vinnies who have contributed to the welfare of those around them.

One Family: Auckland Vinnies Youth Celebrate Feast of St Vincent de Paul

At the end of September, Vinnies Youth Auckland hosted the Diocesan Youth Mass. The theme was “We Give Thanks to You Oh God” and was celerated by Fr Martin Wu. The event also coincided with the Feast Mass of St Vincent de Paul, with almost 1000 coming together at the St Patrick’s Cathedral.

To celebrate the feast day, the charism that St Vincent de Paul displayed was recognised through the youth gathered, who received awards in recognition of their love and service fro the community. The mass included a poignant message of care for those we seek to assist, with music led by both Grace Ministries and Mother of Divine Mercy Youth.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul wish to thank the many young men and women who have made a commitment to service, particularly throughout 2019. To all our our connected Vincentians, principals, staff members of our secondary schools, leaders in the tertiary sector, Vinnies parish groups, as well as our families; thank you for your invaluable support of the work we do. The following people were recognised for their services to the community:

Vinnies News Weekly

August Highlights

Vinnies Regional Gatherings

As part of the Vinnies Youth Programme, schools that are involved receive regular input sessions for education and formative purposes. These are designed to inform their service works throughout the year. Over the last month, the connections formed in these schools have culminated in a series of regional gatherings for Vinnies Youth. Primarily hosted for senior students, the collectives are invited to share with one another what drew them to the Vincentian charism – and how they choose to live it out. These gatherings unfold as an opportunity to have conversations around openness and vulnerability. It also provides a platform for students of differing opinions to connect and explore the power of unity. As fatigued as the students were from juggling the numerous realities of their student life, they were thankful for the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on their journey to date. Through reflective process these young men and women were able to feedback to their collective the ways in which they enjoy service – and the challenges they hope to overcome before the year has ended. 

SVdP National Leaders Gathering

The National Vinnies leaders from Wellington recently came to Auckland to host a gathering. The purpose of this gathering was to look at ways to revitalise membership for the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Vincentians from across the north island were in attendance, as well as several young adults from Vinnies Youth Auckland. There were facilitated discussions among the regions on how to sustain the Society for the foreseeable future, and which steps might need to be taken to realise it.

Students Caring for the Community

As part of the schools youth programme, the students involved learn about the community and social justice issues such as food insecurity. They have come to know that food insecurity reflects the limited ability to source nutritional and safe foods. For many of them, they know all too well what going to school hungry might look and feel like; and how this is common for families in wider Aotearoa society. In being mindful of these facts, the same students have gone on to lead cooking programmes at their local community kitchen. The purpose of these cooking sessions are to provide a source of nutrition for families who are in need within their community. Each of the schools involved enjoy these moments to bond in the kitchen, and put into practice the things they are learning as part of the Vinnies Youth Programme.

Feed a Family Appeal

Every year St Vincent de Paul Kingsland give out over 2500 food parcels to Families in need. The Feed A Family Appeal was therefore set up to support families struggling to put food on the table. A number of parishes have endorsed and launched the appeal within their collectives this month:

  • St Josephs Parish Grey Lynn
  • St John Vianney Parish Hillsborough
  • The Good Shepherd Balmoral

St John Vianney parish led a bakesale stall to further contribute to the cause. The generosity shown by each of the congregations has been immense. The Society of St Vincent de Paul would like to thank Fr Iosefo Timo, Fr Francis Poon & Monsignor Bernard Kiely for their support of the appeal in their respective parishes.

St Cuthbert’s join the Vinnies Youth Community

The Society of St Vincent de Paul wish to congratulate the staff and the new Vinnies leaders of St Cuthbert’s College for establishing their first Vinnies group. The first visit was built on connecting, sharing, learning, empathising and taking a closer look at their lives and those who are affected by poverty. During the session the staff shared about Vinnies Youth, the Charism and some of the work carried out by Society of St Vincent de Paul throughout Auckland. The response of the students was positive and the youth team expressed that it was such a privilege to be a part of St Cuthbert’s first meeting for 2019.

Developing their Toolkit: Vinnies Youth School Visits

Each week, Vinnies Youth collectives in the high schools gather for regular meetings. The purpose of these gatherings are to provide vision, and tools so that students can engage more effectively with people they serve. The Youth Team often run additional sessions within the high school to add to their expanding skillset. These include:

  • Empathetic skills e.g storytelling, compassionate understanding etc.
  • Guiding skills e.g. motivating one another, public speaking etc.
  • Learning skills e.g. Critical thinking etc. 
  • Facilitating skills e.g. listening, recognising potential, team building etc. 
  • Creative skills e.g. inspiring, empowering etc. 

The development of these skills have allowed students to think more deeply about their involvement in the community, and how they can put their learnings into practice as they lead their respective service projects.

Cans for Christmas – Food Appeal

Cans for Christmas was established in 2015 as a community building project between the Catholic Schools around New Zealand to donate cans of food to their local St Vincent de Paul or Foodbank. This time last year, Cans for Christmas had grown to include 47 schools in 2018 and raised 22,000 cans of food for those in need. Earlier in the month of August, some of the Cans for Christmas team have begun dropping off hundreds of crates of food. These are destined for families in need within the community over the Christmas period. 

Supporting the local opshop

The Society of St Vincent de Paul based in Kingsland have been privileged to have the assistance of students in the opshop. These young men and women have been pivotal in ensuring the stock are set out nicely, and putting together food parcels for families seeking assistance. The older volunteers enjoy having the students around, who often share stories of their Vinnies experience, or even of the odd items that are donated which have a history of its own. 

Vinnies News Weekly


Feed a Family Winter Appeal

‘Feed a Family’ is an appeal run by the staff of Vinnies Kingsland and supported by the Vinnies young adults. Through July and into the beginning of August this is being launched at the local parishes  around the Auckland CBD periphery including the St Patricks Cathedral to raise funds for food support. The purpose of this appeal is to support families who are struggling to put food on the table. The people who come to us seeking support, vary from your city rough sleeper, through to parents and grandparents both with jobs who simply cannot put food on the table due to extra costs. Other people are referred through social service providers, Work and Income, mental health services, refuges, prison and so forth.

‘Feed a Family’ is therefore more than simply an appeal, it is an opportunity to connect with a family, and truly make a difference. Recently, the Vinnies Youth have been running the appeal across parishes in Auckland – seeking to bring awareness about food insecurity and what people can do about it.

Supporting the Community

The number of families and individuals affected by the shortage of food and resources during these cold months has grown exponentially. The students of Marist College are aware of the unfolding statistics as they have learnt these in school. They are also aware of the reality of these families, as they have encountered them firsthand within their service at the local opshop. These young women have chosen to make a difference. Throughout the last few weeks they have mobilised their school and collected over 4000+ items of food to distribute to families across Auckland.

Gathering As One Community: “Remain Steadfast”

Leaders from across Auckland hosted an event for youth from various regions, ministries and colleges across the Diocese. The theme was “Remain Steadfast”. The hope was to establish and foster friendships with one another other, and provide a platform to sustain these connections into the foreseeable future. The day included conversations on faith and service, as well as participation in activities such as, praise and worship, team bonding activities, keynotes and adoration. This was well attended by many Vinnies Youth, who gravitated to finding a space for formation and connection with fellow servant leaders.

Authentic Leadership and the Call to Serve

The Auckland Vinnies School (AVSSC) leaders council gather each month for formation and community development. The recent gathering was led by AVSSC Alumini Latayvia Tualasea-Tautai. Latayvia is a member of NZ Social Welfare Expert Advisory team, Co-Founder Labournesia and student at the University of Auckland. She shared on her experiences as a leader in high school, and how faith, family and culture have shaped her journey of service. These young leaders have reached the half way mark of their academic year, and so this session provided a platform for them to reflect on their own leadership and the way forward.

Catholic Caring Mass 2019

The Catholic Caring Foundation hosted their Annual Caring Mass at the Christ the King parish church. This Mass was celebrated by Bishop Patrick Dunn and was attended by over one thousand people. It was moving to see people from many social service providers and community groups in attendance. These were men and women who committed themselves to making the world a better place. In attendance were also students from various schools who were invited to receive Caring awards in recognition of their love and service to the community. The Society of St Vincent de Paul are grateful to the Catholic Caring Foundation for supporting the Vinnies Youth programme through the many years including this year. There is no doubt the support has made a significant difference to the youth program. A beautiful part of the Mass was the acknowledgement of different volunteers and staff nominated by their work places to receive a Catholic Caring award. Theresa McCallum received an award from Bishop Pat Dunn and the Catholic Caring Foundation in acknowledgment for her many years of service to the poor through her work at St Vincent de Paul Kingsland. At the Vinnies Kingsland Centre, the the Team have had the privilege of working alonside some very passionate, caring and hard working volunteers. They bring a smile and sense of positivity that lights up peoples day, particularly those who seek support at the opshop or foodbank. It is with people such as Theresa that the Society are able to connect and better serve the community.

Building Upon The Foundation

Over the last month, members of the Vinnies Youth Team have been connecting in with school groups across Auckland. These visits often include the exploration of a social issue through empathy tools. Students have found that it is no easy task to make a meal from the contents of a typical food parcel. Nor is it easy to sit with the statistics of those who are incarcerated or without a place to call home. As these students embark on the service component of their journey this year, they are hopeful that their new found tools will aid in connecting with those they serve.  

Through Love We Heal

Building upon the relationships these last few months, a number of ministries have continued to flourish. These include services to those who are incarcerated, as well as those in care at the hospital. Each weekend, Vinnies and Vincentians come together to serve and build a sense of community. Each Sunday, a group of Vinnies Youth have the opportunity to visit those who reside within Mt Eden Prison. The group lead a Liturgy of the Word in up to two prison wings at a time, as well as some conversation and waita (songs).

Before Mass on Sunday, Vinnies Youth also have the opportunity to guide patients at Auckland Hospital to and from their rooms. Though the journey is short the conversations which take in the corridor provide a sense of positivity that is well receieved by all. The simple act of being able to attend the Mass is significant for those that go as they seek to recover and rehabilitate themselves.

Vinnies Youth Assisting in the Opshop

Students from colleges across Auckland have been visiting the Kingsland Vinnies Centre weekly. These provide a platform for youth to see firsthand where their donations go towards. Their key activities have included the sorting of clothing for the opshop, packing food into the foodbanks for families, as well as organising resources for school input sessions.

Making Meals Matter

Tasked with maintaining the wellbeing of families that come through the door, the Vinnies Centre in Otahuhu seek to provide a haven for those seeking assistance. Families come to the centre from across South Auckland, and so they rely on volunteers such as those from the local high schools to help prepare bulk meals. As an after school project, these young men and women gladly take to the kitchen to prepare and package the food so that families may be fed. The students thoroughly enjoy learning how to cook and bake these low cost nutritious meals.