Peter Ross reports on the weekly Rotary packing of food parcels for the Salvation Army that a collective of Rotary clubs does on a regular basis, and describes how this valuable initiative came about:
This all started back in lockdown in April 2020 when the Chenery Memorial Trust made the decision to donate $50,000 to the Salvation Army and in doing so get the matching dollars from the Mowbray family which was on offer at that time. Having convinced my Trustees to make this advance I thought I should follow it up and see where the funds were going. So, at the end of the first lock-down when we went to Level 3, I volunteered to assist with food pack deliveries to the community out of Manukau.
After a few of these sessions delivering parcels, it became apparent the Salvation Army would need more help getting the food ready for when lockdown finished so with the support of Scott Burridge and Alan Hayward (Newmarket Rotary) and George Wilson (Papakura Rotary) I met with the Salvation Army in Manukau on 28th April to set it up and we started packing in Early May. Papakura shared the initial packing roster with Newmarket, and we very quickly added teams from St John’s and Remuera. Packing was always on Tuesday between 10 and 2pm and shared as follows.
First Tuesday                     Remuera, with help on occasions from Newmarket and Papakura
Second Tuesday                Papakura
Third Tuesday                   Newmarket
Fourth Tuesday                 St John’s together with Newmarket
Later in the year we were joined on occasions by Drury, Papatoetoe West, Half Moon Bay, and some other Rotarians from a range of clubs who just wanted to lend a hand.
We packed on Tuesdays because that was not a day where the public were calling in to collect food at various times as we navigated through the series of stage 3 lock-downs we tried and managed to continue but at times with the added security of masks and gloves. On a few occasions we did overlap with the public coming in and that was an additional reinforcement as to why we were doing this.
We packed dry boxes of canned food, cereals, milk powder, flour, pasta, rice, honey, biscuits and a whole host of donated product. We also packed “Hygiene packs” with toiletries and cleaning products. On occasions we packed raw vegetables, coming in bulk from Pukekohe; Carrots, Potatoes, Apples to name a few. We repacked flour and Rice literally by the ton. When we first arrived at Manukau we were confronted with a “wall” of bulk flour which needed to be broken down and one year later we are almost there.
We have had teams sorting through donated boxes of miscellaneous food items for inclusion in the food parcels.
This project has brought together a number of Rotary Clubs, working alongside and supporting each other. We have had a number of others join us from other Rotary programs, such as Rotary Youth Exchange, and RYLA. We even had help from a few men residing at the Salvation Army’s Epsom Lodge as well as the staff from a company run by a Newmarket Rotarian. We have enjoyed great support from the Rotarians and their better halves, and a number have gone to great lengths to be there on a Tuesday morning. Everyone seems to have a great time when engaged with the project added to by getting to know a number of people from other Rotary Clubs.
I want to thank a few key people:
George Wilson from Papakura my great friend and everlasting supporter
Allan Hayward from Newmarket who has taken on a huge role of organising volunteers
John Hawke from Newmarket who turns up every Tuesday, with his brother Dave.
Ross Forrester from Remuera who has worked hard with his team
Robyn Ingram from St Johns who has supported us very well
Peter Bailey from Half Moon Bay who came experienced the camaraderie and continues to provide support
Also, the team from Manukau Salvation Army; Theresa Parker, Jenny and more latterly Rhondda Middleton