Instead of accepting self-referrals, Red Cross worked closely with major community agencies and organisations to target people who they’d identified as the most vulnerable.

To be eligible, winter pack recipients had to be either older than 65, or living in an earthquake red-zoned area, or have a young family and receiving government support or holding a community services card, or have a disability. All winter packs were allocated within a fortnight.

“It was surprising to see our packs allocated so quickly,” says Red Cross outreach team leader Anna Brooke. “The amount of need out there, particularly in the eastern suburbs, is still very high. We’re still finding a surprising number of people are living in garages, over-crowded conditions and in quake-damaged homes.”

The 1,000‘Ready for Winter, Ready for Anything’ packs had an average retail value of $170 and contained a range of items including – but not limited to – blankets, draught-stoppers, socks and slippers, hot-water bottles, beanies, thermometers, thermos flasks, soup and hot chocolate.

Red Cross volunteer Paul Cull, who spent most of his month-long holiday in Christchurch helping fill and distribute the packs, said seeing people’s reactions when they received a box was “priceless”.

“I had people cry with happiness when I turned up on their doorstep.” “Volunteering my time to help those in need was very rewarding and it felt good to make people realise they’re not forgotten.”

New Zealand Red Cross has delivered more than 13,000 winter packs across greater Christchurch since the recovery programme began in 2011.