Christmas toy store for families struggling to make ends meet

Olivia Lange, general manager of community services at the City of Wellington Mission, says the Christmas toy store empowers customers by giving them choice.

Jericho Rock-Archer / Tips

Olivia Lange, general manager of community services at the City of Wellington Mission, says the Christmas toy store empowers customers by giving them choice.

The pressure to be provided during the holiday season hits some families hard. But in December, thousands of people in our area will see the year end with gifts and food provided by the Wellington City Mission.

The charitable trust will open the doors of its Christmas “toy shop” next month – giving customers the flexibility to choose and wrap gifts for their children, but without having to go through a checkout.

Olivia Lange, general manager of community services at the Mission, said the idea for the store was to give customers “dignity in choice.”

“Christmas is about giving and having a good time with the family. They know their children better. It is important to give them the chance to choose the gift that is best for their children, ”she said.

City Mission is the second charity featured in the Dominion Post/ The Nikau Foundation Christmas Appeal, which this year highlights local groups working to foster bonds within the community. The Nikau Foundation donates $ 1,000 to each of the charities to launch the appeal.

* Wellington City Mission opens “social” supermarket, the first of its kind in New Zealand
* Ongoing Covid fallout sees demand for Christmas food packages skyrocket
* Retirees make an additional donation to children in need this winter

City Missioner Murray Edridge said his organization was trying to do things “smarter and nicer” this year. Previously, the Mission sent gifts to families. Now, it allows families to choose.

“For the people who are doing it hard, Christmas just adds to the pressure because of the wait,” he said. “We’re trying to get away from a place where a charity comes and contributes to Christmas, [while] giving the Christmas experience that most people enjoy.

Edridge said the exorbitant costs of living in Wellington, especially in housing, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on some industries, meant there would be a lot of people using the Mission’s services this holiday season.

Last year, individuals and businesses in the Wellington area donated nearly 8,000 toys to Mission’s, which is run in partnership with Vinnies Wellington (the renowned Society of St Vincent De Paul Wellington). At the same time, the Mission provided food parcels, which fed around 3,000 people.

The Wellington City Mission was established in 1904. It helps people access food, financial mentorship, social work assistance, and advocacy. The mission also manages transitional housing sites in Wellington, Porirua and Lower Hutt.

Next January, construction of the mission’s new $ 40 million hub, Whakamaru, on Oxford Terrace in Mt Cook, will begin. She has been based in Newtown for 32 years.


The building, called Whakamaru, will have a community café, a social supermarket and 35 housing units designed to accommodate people with chronic homelessness.

Earlier this year, the Mission opened its “social supermarket” which, like the toy store, emphasizes customer choice. Laid out like a commercial supermarket with shelves and a cash register, customers can choose what foods they want to take home.

“It means they have control over what is going on in their lives and what they are providing for their families,” Lange said.

Nikau Foundation Executive Director Alice Montague said the Mission’s focus on preserving the dignity of its clients was aligned with the goals of her organization.

“We know that many families in our city will struggle to make ends meet this Christmas,” she said. “We were impressed with the social supermarket. When we heard about the toy store, their plans to support people in this way really resonated with us. “

If you would like to support Wellington City Mission, you can donate to, or call 04 245 0900. The toy store will be open from December 13th. An appointment is essential, and can be arranged by calling the number above.

Nikau Foundation Christmas call page:ël

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