A total of 390 cans of food were donated to The Salvation Army’s foodbank as 1500 candles flickered at Onehunga Christmas in the Park.
Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board chair, Maria Meredith was thrilled with the success of the cans for candlelight initiative.
Event-goers were asked to bring a canned food donation in exchange for a candle. Instead of lighting up a tree, Santa invited everyone to light up the night together with candles.
“We hope everyone had a fantastic time at our Onehunga Christmas in the Park. It was heartwarming to see so many canned food donations being exchanged for candles and kids having so much fun,” says chair Meredith.
“Thank you for all your kind donations to The Salvation Army’s foodbank, which distributes food parcels to locals in need. It’s been a difficult year for a lot of people, especially with rising living costs so every little bit will help people who are doing it tough.”
Despite dark rain clouds threatening overhead, the show went on with locals descending on Jellicoe Park with their canned food donations.
“We've been hearing some disappointment over the fact the tree wasn’t lit up this year and we appreciate it wasn't quite the same. However, we wanted to change up the event to make it more impactful by giving back to those less fortunate,” the local board chair adds.
“It's no secret our budget was limited this year, so we made it more meaningful by lighting up the event for others to benefit.”
The Salvation Army Royal Oak Community Centre Manager, Ofa Mafi Tuitupou was grateful for the collaboration.
“Our team have time and again spoken of how much we enjoyed connecting with the wider community and what an amazing turnout,” says Tuitupou.
In the lead up to Santa’s appearance, the crowd was entertained by performances from Te Papapa School, Onehunga Primary, Royal Oak Intermediate, local carols band, Alabaster, Let Us Zumba with Sonia and operatic vocals by Christina Ellison.