Cambridge is answering the kindness call in spades, with offers of help pouring in to cover an extended period of hardship.
As lockdown started, Waipa District Councillor and long-time Cambridge resident Philip Coles joined others seeking ways to help. He linked up with Cambridge Grey Power, and then with Cambridge New World owner/operators, Logan and Nicola McKenzie.
He helped Cambridge Grey Power president Val Massey compile a list of people needing assistance, and since then has been helping with their shopping and driving them to hospital or other appointments.
He then contacted New World: “I asked Logan if I could help with their online deliveries, and I’ve been doing that since lockdown began.”
Once the store’s orders are received from three aged care facilities, collated then packaged, Philip collects them from the store and delivers them to their destination. The McKenzies decided to make a donation to charity to cover his hours, one which Philip then passes on the Salvation Army Foodbank.
The Salvation Army’s Cambridge Corps head Shaun Baker said there had been a 200 percent increase in demand for food parcels during April. Last week, they handed out 21 food parcels, “an increase of 400 percent”.
“We are trying to give people a bigger food parcel where stocks allow – the attempt is to give people five days of food,” he said. “We are seeing people for the second and third time as their incomes take a hit … they will likely need ongoing support well past the end of the nation’s alert levels.”
He urged shoppers to continue donating into foodbank bins at supermarkets.
“We cannot do this alone. We need the support of local people and businesses … thanks to an extremely generous community, this is currently happening.”
Shaun and his team are working closely with Civil Defence (a key partner of The Salvation Army during Covid-19), and Cambridge Community House, whom he described as doing an ‘outstanding job’.
Logan, meanwhile, has had to combat pressure points in his own operation, even after the initial panic buying died down. He contacted the Hautapu Rugby Club – New World sponsors them – and ended up with players and other club members stepping in to man Covid-19 security at the front door and help in a variety of roles, including restocking the shelves at night.
The store has also employed additional staff to cope with the workload, some of them well-known Cambridge folk seeking ways to help, others individuals struggling with lockdown job losses.
Staff leave has been cancelled for the time being: “And I don’t see the situation changing significantly for us any time soon,” he said. “At the end of the day, it is a privilege for us to be able to trade at this time, but it is also a huge responsibility for us to do so.”
Meanwhile, those keen to help the Salvation Army help others can donate through collection bins (at Countdown and Freshchoice supermarkets), or visit www.foodbank.org.nz