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Back then, thousands of Red Cross Parcels were sent to prisoners of war in Europe, giving hope and, in some cases, saving a life by providing vital sustenance.Resources were scarce for people in these camps, with one of the few glimmers of hope arriving in the form of Red Cross Parcels. These boxes were packed with food, knitted socks, personal hygiene items and even tobacco or cigarettes. Goods came from across the world, including Aotearoa where tens of thousands of Kiwi women knitted socks and mittens, crafted bandages and sewed clothing to be sent to prisoners of war.
Reviving the hope amid the pandemic
In 2020, the spirit of these parcels continues. With the support of major partner AMI and thanks to donations from generous businesses, New Zealand Red Cross has delivered parcels to people supported through Red Cross services. The parcels contained similar essential items to the ones in World War Two, including food, hygiene products, blankets and wellbeing resources.
“These parcels are about more than just providing essential goods and wellbeing information – they are about spreading kindness and hope.We know that some Kiwis found COVID-19 very challenging and this is just one of the ways we helped people in need,” says Shaun Greaves, New Zealand Red Cross General Manager, Humanitarian Development.
Our Red Cross volunteers across Aotearoa, with the support of our partners, worked hard to package all the donated goods from our partners into boxes to gift to vulnerable members in our communities affected by COVID-19, including our Meals on Wheels recipients and newly settled former refugee families. Parcels contained inflight blankets and treats from Air New Zealand, sanitizer, disinfectant and liquid soap from Dettol and Glen 20, toilet paper from Countdown, seeds from Bunnings and wellbeing postcards from the All Right? health promotion and marketing campaign. Funds from AMI and CBRE and donated by Kiwis through Trade Me’s Kindness Store were used to top up the parcels with grocery and wellbeing resources including bookmarks, puzzle and colouring books.
Our amazing Red Cross volunteers distributed around 3,700 parcels across the country. The parcels brought comfort and joy to those who received them, including Meals on Wheels recipient in the Wairarapa, Margaret Mckenchie, who said she was taken aback when the Red Cross came Our amazing Red Cross volunteers distributed around 3,700 parcels across the country. The parcels brought comfort and joy to those who received them, including Meals on Wheels recipient in the Wairarapa, Margaret Mckenchie, who said she was taken aback when the Red Cross came knocking on her door one sunny Saturday afternoon.
"I was truly blown away by the thought and care that went into every parcel. It’s a tremendous effort you [Red Cross volunteers] put in," Margaret remarked.
In Wellington, for six-year-old Johan and his young sister who settled in New Zealand with their mum earlier this year, their favourite part of the parcels was the warm beanie gifted by the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes also gifted tickets to one of their rugby games in Wellington to former refugee families, including to Johan who proudly wore his new beanie at the game.
In July, we received additional publicity and support thanks to Air New Zealand’s Carepoints™ programme which resulted in an amazing 59,000 Airpoints Dollars™ being donated in support of our parcels. The Airpoints Dollars™ will be converted into gift cards to purchase household essentials to include in our second wave of parcels, which will be distributed over the months ahead. Reckitt Benckiser also helped lift awareness and parcel donations through their Glen 20 TV commercial which screened in July.
The revival of our Red Cross Parcels would not have been possible without the support of generous businesses, who have helped us spread hope and kindness to those who need it most during these unprecedented times. A big thank you to the following organisations who contributed to the revival of Red Cross Parcels:
- Air New Zealand
- Reckitt Benckiser
- Trade Me