Making Xmas special

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GRATEFUL: Admiring gifts that have so far arrived under the Birthright tree at Heartland Bank this year are (from left) social worker Christine Muff, Birthright family visitor Lee-Anne Jary and Heartland Ashburton branch manager Andrew Wilson.
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For more than 25 years, what is now Heartland Bank has hosted a Christmas tree for Birthright Ashburton.

People are invited to leave a gift, which doesn’t have to be wrapped, under the tree for children from babies to 17-years-old. Birthright supports one-parent families.

Heartland Ashburton branch manager Andrew Wilson said the bank saw hosting the tree as a way to give back to the community it served.

‘‘It’s amazing to see the children of children who have left presents under the tree now coming in to do it,’’ Wilson said.

Gifts that are popular include Lego, games, movie vouchers, toiletries and crafts. This year, Birthright is particularly in need of gifts for eight- to 14-years-olds, especially boys.

Birthright family visitor Lee-Anne Jary is one of a small team of volunteers who get the joy of visiting families with the donated gifts. She said those receiving them were always incredibly grateful.

Birthright social worker Christine Muff said some of those they had helped in the past were now in a position to be the ones leaving presents under the tree, or helping the organisation in a different way.

‘‘One day an amount appeared in our bank account, we didn’t know why we had received it. I then met a person along the street who asked if we’d got the money.

‘‘It turns out they had a been a Birthright child and nominated us to be the recipient of money being given to a charity,’’ Muff said.

‘‘Often we find the families that can give Christmas presents are giving things to their children they are going to need, like for something at school or camping trip, so to be able to give a board game, water balloons, or something fun is so nice,’’ she said.

The cost of living crisis had impacted families this year but the gifts given to Birthright helped to make Christmas special for the families they support.

‘‘Each year presents just arrive under the tree, and we are so appreciative of the generous support we receive from the community,’’ Muff said.

Í Gifts can be left at the Birthright Ashburton Christmas tree at Heartland Bank, 224 East St, Ashburton, until 3pm on December 22.