“I don’t get meals from Red Cross during weekends, so I was surprised to hear them calling out for me that day. And when I got to the door, I was shocked to see them turning up with the box,” Margaret shares.

Much to her excitement, she mentions that she was quick to open the parcel to rummage through all its content. One specific item that really caught her attention and painted a big smile on her face was the pack of shortbread biscuits.

“I’m very fond of shortbreads. And as you may notice, my baking days are over. So, I find it lovely to receive a pack of shortbread biscuits as a gift,” she explains.

Each Red Cross parcel contains a range of essential goods to bring comfort and hope to its recipients. Along with a pack an edible treat, the parcel also includes a blanket and a beanie to help keep warm this winter, basic hygiene items like hand sanitiser and toilet paper, and relevant wellbeing resources like books, puzzles, and some tips on how to look after their mental health and wellbeing.

"I was truly blown away by the thought and care that went to every parcel. It's a tremendous effort you put in," Margaret exclaims.

Caring through sharing

New Zealand Red Cross has delivered care parcels to all the users of our Meals on Wheels service like Margaret, as well as to former refugees who recently arrived New Zealand. While they are considered as vulnerable members of our community, it’s amazing to see that they also haven’t lost their sense of generosity. For Margaret, this meant sharing the parcel with other people in need.

She says, “I find everything useful and very thoughtful, but I can’t help but thinking of other people who could also benefit from it, so I decided not to keep all of them for myself.”

“What I did was to a couple of things out of it. I got the shortbread biscuits and the tiny bottle of sanitiser. Everything else in the box, I shared to a rest home that takes charity cases. I passed it on to Glenwood Masonic Hospital, to be given to those who need it.”

Margaret says she called the hospital in advance to express her intention to share the package she received from Red Cross. She then dropped the parcel off at the reception, so that the staff could give the items to those who they thought would benefit the most.

“I reckon all the items in the box will be used—there was nothing there they won’t use,” Margaret says.

“Sometimes, they have children there who are terminally ill — and I’m sure the little hat inside the box would make a kid happy. The book and the puzzle would likely be popular for the kids and adults alike. I reckon that they don’t have access to libraries and things like that as they are not out and about,” she adds.

Margaret gladly shows off the pack of shortbread biscuits she found inside her Red Cross parcel.

Receiving Meals on Wheels during lockdown

Margaret is among the numerous people who benefitted from New Zealand Red Cross’ continued delivery of the meals during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.

She explains, “I can’t afford buying from the private hospital all the time because it’s too expensive, and I’m no longer able to cook a decent meal. With the nerve damage in my fingers, arthritis and severed tendons on my shoulders, it’s no longer safe for me to handle things in the oven like heavy pots. I’m absolutely dependent on the meals brought to me.”

Apart from the meals, Margaret highlights that the pleasant interactions she had with Red Cross volunteers somehow helped her get through the feeling of isolation brought about by the need to keep at home during the lockdown.

“I always look forward to the people who deliver them. They are always cheerful, and you can have a couple of words before they leave. It’s nice. Interactions like that are important to me,” she says.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is one of our longest standing and most recognised community programmes and one that is much appreciated by the people using the service.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, it was deemed by the government as an essential service.

Meals on Wheels is more than just a carrier of hot meals; through our amazing Meals on Wheels drivers, the service also delivers independence to many elderly and disabled people and those recovering from illness or hospital treatment.

More importantly, the service provides much needed regular social contact for its users.

If you’re keen to be a Meals on Wheels volunteer, you can sign up here.