Giving gifts to youth in need

For the ninth year in Balclutha, Clutha Round Table (CRT) Wishing Tree has brought the generosity of the Christmas spirit to children at the sharp edge of economic hardship.

Clyde St retailer Ladybird Junction hosted the Wishing Tree which was decorated with cards listing the age and gender of 73 children selected by the Clutha Budget Advisory Service (BAS), which manages the Clutha Food Hub.

Visitors to the shop could take a card from the tree and buy a Christmas gift for the anonymous child from any shop they liked, including The Warehouse Balclutha, whose partnership included a discount.

A gift guideline was a value of $50 to $80, and any community-minded person could be a secret Santa and return their gift to the shop, where it was transferred to BAS to be gift-wrapped and delivered to a local child.

‘‘I’d really like to thank the efforts of all the partners, especially the team at Clutha Round Table. We couldn’t do this without them,’’ CRT chairman Mike Curtis said. Round Table is a national association of clubs based throughout New Zealand.

Membership is open to men between 18 and 45.

Each local club adapts its theme for its members and community’s needs to offer a focused way to meet new people, develop personally and promote understanding and goodwill.

Members are encouraged to be active, take an intelligent approach to being a good citizen, accept and display civic responsibility and to promote high standards in their professional lives.

Its founding principles are to promote involvement in local businesses and the community, encourage personal development and enhance lifestyle.

National and international pressures on the cost of living including inflation, food and fuel prices had contributed to a 74% increase in Food Hub clients in the last three months, BAS financial mentor and service co-ordinator Lee-Anne Michelle said.

The Wishing Tree partners agreed tightening belts and official predictions for a recession in the new year should not be a concern for children in the festive season and wished the whole community a safe and merry Christmas.