Building strong communities is part of our mission. We’re always looking for fun ways to teach children the value of giving to others and Christmas gave us a great opportunity.
“Many of our children are in care full time and have limited opportunities to be involved with community-based groups like scouts or girl guides so don’t necessarily get the chance for give-back activities,” says Adelle Singer, OSCAR Manager (our afterschool and holiday programme service).
“We’re always looking for opportunities for children to learn the satisfaction and value of contributing to their community.”
Collecting rubbish on the beach while collecting driftwood for creative projects is one example. Another being planned is tree planting in Te Mata Park as part of the July school holiday programme.
However, Christmas provides a number of opportunities for children to learn while they have fun. In 2020, children involved in a short pre-Christmas holiday programme got involved with this Christmas Cheer project.
Children were taken shopping and chose a small gift suitable for a child that they then wrapped. Taradale children were matched up with a child at our Napier early learning centre and went on a visit to the centre to share their gifts that included YMCA bespoke colouring-in books.
“The stores we visited were blown away at how our children behaved and appreciated the spend. They were very supportive and excited at what we were doing,” says Adelle. She does point out that the size of the shopping groups was limited to eight children each time to keep things under control.
In Hastings children also baked gingerbread people and took these and their gifts to the Hastings clock tower. There, under the watchful eye of YMCA carers, they gave gifts to passing children and baking to adults.
“It was awesome to see the reactions of the passerbys. They were really appreciative of their gifts and that gave our kids a real buzz. Some of the children struggled with the idea of giving their gift to someone they didn’t know but as they saw the reactions, they became excited to do it.”
This year, with the fall of Christmas on a Saturday, there will be a short pre-Christmas holiday programme and Adelle says the Christmas Cheer initiative will happen again.