When a Santa laden with gifts arrived on a Harley Davidson at an emergency housing provider in Rotorua, Daytona Simiona’s eyes filled with emotion.
The lone mother and her four children were among the hundreds living
in emergency accommodation that benefited from a surprise race from Santa Claus.
Rotorua-based social service providers WERA Aotearoa, Lifewise, Visions of a Helping Hand and Emerge Aotearoa came together to see what they can do to make the season special for homeless families.
Together they are hired by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to run 12 motels for families with children and provide overall support.
Simiona is a mother of five but lives with four in emergency accommodation and has been doing so for a year.
Her children, aged five to 13, were “quite excited” to see Santa Claus unexpectedly enter the motel, followed by elves with gifts, Simiona said.
âI have tears in my eyes just thinking about it. “
The freebies included Lego, backpacks, lollipops, agendas and gel pens, kites, masks, scooter boards and lipsticks.
In addition to the freebies, Deane’s team delivered a “Christmas Eve bag of goodies” with reindeer food, hot chocolate, Christmas cookies for Christmas Day, and some food for their table.
The children said the surprise made them “warm and confused, grateful, blessed, happy”.
Christmas was a “stressful” time of year, and although Simiona’s children had seen Santa before, they had never received gifts like this from a stranger, he said. she declared.
She said the suppliers went “above and beyond” and made the season “quite special”.
Visions of a Helping Hand founder Tiny Deane was one of the elves in two golf carts following Santa Claus on his Harley Davidson, delivering gifts to 352 children at the nine motels and halfway houses he managed .
Deane said he’s never seen so many people “in tears”, with many hugs shared.
“A lot of them don’t have the money to do it.”
The giveaways were made possible by sponsors, with each motel owner making a large donation for the holiday season as well as sponsors in Auckland, he said.
Mr. Whippy also offered free ice cream.
Other families received a very special Christmas present this year, as the trust hosted 22 families in the past two and a half weeks.
On average, the trust put about 25 families and individuals into a home per month, he said.
Emerge Aotearoa’s director of operations Toli Maka said several community groups and businesses have come together to ensure children and families in emergency housing receive special treatment this Christmas.
Previously, a man spent Christmas next to a wagon, a mother couldn’t afford to recognize the celebrations, and others felt that getting anything was alms or should be begged for.
Maka said some of the stories were “heartbreaking”.
This year, the local Toy World donated a gift for each of the 48 children who would be chosen by age and gender and they would all receive gift bags.
On Wednesday, a security company will provide a catering service with a range of barbecue food, alongside Mr. Whippy, games, a bouncy castle, bubble machine, music and one-time prizes.
The security company will also provide packed lunches for families at the motels on Saturday.
Among the freebies, Zorb donated family passes to people staying in motels, Rotorua Canopy Tours donated a voucher for two adults, Rotorua Mini Golf donated two family passes and Redwoods Tree Walk offered a family pass.
Maka said it was “crucial” to add “a little cheer this holiday season”.
Some of the sites also received trampolines, which would allow children living in confined spaces to play, she said.
Maka said it was about helping people reconnect with the community and restore hope after living in motels for years.
WERA will provide aligners for all children over the age of five, as well as a tennis ball in their name.
Everyone under five will receive a small balloon.
The swimming pools will be open and this will coincide with a barbecue lunch for all. This will be followed by swimming lessons for the children.
All motels managed by WERA will have Christmas trees decorated by the children, as well as decorations around the motels.
Housing and Urban Development deputy director general Anne Shaw said Christmas is stressful for those who have nowhere to live.
She said the vendors went the extra mile and HUD was grateful for everything they did.