Weeks of preparation and hard-work behind the scenes has well and truly paid off with 1323 goodie-filled boxes delivered to homes all over the island and shipped off to family and friends in the pa enua over the past few days.
Says Christmas Box organiser Vaiana George, “The community’s response towards Christmas Box has been awesome.
“Over the years it has taken some time for Christmas Box to actually build momentum in the community. But this year we have seen an increase in members of the wider community actually engaging more with project and Christmas Box becoming an increasingly known household name.”
The project began with 500 boxes and has since grown to over 1000. This year’s number was a record.
George said despite some difficulty with their fundraising efforts, the team still managed to pull through to the end.
“We see the majority of the community’s efforts come through on our biggest event day, which is packing day,” she said.
Over 80 people showed their generosity by turning up to a packing day held on December 2.
“It is amazing to see the support each individual gives in preparing these boxes for deliveries to families.”
George says all of the roles involved in the project are small, but everyone has a job to do.
“Even the children were well involved. So seeing everyone come on board for this initiative is awesome.”
Most of the boxes will be distributed to all the outer islands. Two hundred and sixty boxes are going to the northern group and 440 boxes are making their way around the southern islands.
“On Rarotonga the remaining boxes will be distributed to deserving families,” George says.
Those involved with the project have worked closely with local government agencies such as Internal Affairs to help identify those who will receive a box.
“As well as through word of mouth from individuals in the community who know someone who should get a box,” George says.
Every child who receives a gift from the BSP giving tree also receive a Christmas box for them and their family.
Boxes will also go to Creative Centre members, pa metua and other agencies on Rarotonga, says George.
Next year, the team aim to achieve a target of over 1300 Christmas boxes.
However, George says they will plan to send even more to the outer islands as that is where the greater need lies.
“We've just about wrapped up Christmas Box for 2017 and are already excited for next year.”
With the distribution of boxes well underway, George says it's exciting to know that over 1000 families will receive a little blessing this Christmas.
“For those who have been on a delivery run with us and have seen where the boxes are actually going, the way their face lights up it really reminds us about why we're doing what we're doing.
“To give back to families, children, individuals in the community is really what it's all about,” she said. Many different businesses and people who have helped with the Christmas Box project this year and in previous years, she says.
“I would like to say thank you to Teresa Tatuava, who works really hard behind the scenes to help Christmas Box run as smoothly as possible and my mother who showed up every Friday, rain or shine, to sell hotdogs,” she said.
George also extended her appreciation to the Christmas Box families who show their support, as well as the wider community of the Cook Islands.
“Lastly to our major sponsors, Taio Shipping, Prime Foods, BSP, General Transport, Transam Shipping, BCI and Edgewater Resort and Spa. Thank you for the huge amount of support in helping Christmas Box reach families all over the Cook Islands,” she said.