Warm feet, full tummies thanks to trust support

Getting children to remove their brand new gumboots before getting into bed at night is a new phenomenon in Brockville at the moment.

It comes after pupils at Brockville Kindergarten have started receiving warm jackets, socks, gumboots, snacks and hot meals from the KidsCan Charitable Trust.

"One child’s mum told me this morning that they’ve been having trouble prising the boots off their feet — it’s a battle because they want to wear them to bed," kindergarten head teacher Julie Baird said.

"They’re so excited about them.

"It’s so exciting for me too. When I went through the footwear and socks, I had a big tear in my eye because the socks are so lovely and warm and soft.

"Most of our children are walking to school and now they’re going to have lovely warm feet."

Ms Baird said the centre had been on the KidsCan under-5s programme waiting list for a long time because demand for support was so high, but now she was delighted it was all coming to fruition.

Brockville Kindergarten pupils (from left) Lakai Fowler (4), Lavina Witchall (4), Saviour Judah...
Brockville Kindergarten pupils (from left) Lakai Fowler (4), Lavina Witchall (4), Saviour Judah-Reign Tutahione (3), Ahmad Al Hallak (4) and Genevieve Witchall (4) tuck into a hot lunch of pasta and vegetables, provided as part of the KidsCan Charitable Trust under-5s programme. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Her staff had previously spent a lot of time applying for grants and sourcing food and clothing for many pupils at the kindergarten, because many of their families were unable to make ends meet.

And the number of pupils needing help was increasing.

"Families are struggling to survive on a benefit — it’s not enough — and so they feel like they’re failing their kids."

Ms Baird said the time spent sourcing food, clothing and shoes for the children would have been better spent on teaching, but they did it because they wanted to do all they could to put children on a level playing field.

"The Dunedin Longitudinal Study shows that the first three years of a child’s life are the most important and we’re catering for that age-group.

"If they can’t eat, they can’t learn, and if they can’t learn, they can’t break that poverty cycle."

The trust helps more than 46,000 New Zealand children living in poverty, by providing a warm nutritious lunch, snacks, a jacket, shoes, socks and head lice treatment.

--  john.lewis@odt.co.nz



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