Blown away by bucketful of goodwill

These three children (from left) Luke (5), Bianca (9) and Jasmine (7) Crichton plastered my face...
These three children (from left) Luke (5), Bianca (9) and Jasmine (7) Crichton plastered my face with postal stamps before posing for a photo. Photo by Belinda Crichton.
"Excuse me sir, sorry to ask, but we've had a couple of calls about a possible scammer in town," said the policeman.

Collecting donations for the Christchurch earthquake appeal has been an interesting experience in Queenstown.

For the past few afternoons, I've been proudly standing in the Queenstown Mall, armed with little red bucket, my only ammunition a cheeky smile and a healthy dose of enthusiasm.

For the most part it has been a humbling experience.

Ranging from one excited little girl who graciously launched her pocket money at my head to a passing cowboy who casually donated $50 without even making eye contact.

When the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch last Tuesday, my fellow members of the Queenstown Red Cross emergency response team rallied for a crisis meeting.

Four members of the team left for Christchurch at 6am the next day and the rest of us remained on stand-by.

As the hours passed and media reports grew increasingly tragic, I decided to take action.

On my first day of collecting donations in Queenstown, I was blown away by people's generosity. In three hours, the little red bucket had collected more than $700.

I was also approached by several Christchurch residents who had fled to safety.

One man told me he made it out of a collapsing building with only seconds to spare.

Another tearful lady said she had stood and watched in horror as her office block plummeted to the ground.

Despite such initial success, my second day in the field took a surprise turn for the worse.

Within the first hour, at least half a dozen people had, shockingly, asked me if I was a scammer.

After 15 minutes of police questioning and a quick phone call to my team leader, everything checked out - despite some rather embarrassing whispers from passing strangers.

Despite my run in with the law, I've raised about $1200 so far.

Total donations to the Red Cross appeal have already passed the $5 million mark and Red Cross has more than 170 trained staff and volunteers from all over New Zealand working in Christchurch to support the relief efforts.

If you happen to see me standing around Queenstown, feel free to add some weight to my scam-free bucket or, to donate online, visit


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