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It’s in the bag . . . Volunteers in Rangiora gather after the Toot for Tucker collection, with the impressive haul from the town. Photo: Supplied

By RACHEL MACDONALD

The festive spirit of giving far outweighed the occasional Scrooge moment at the eighth annual Toot for Tucker groceries drive.

Organiser Bev Wright says the event went off better than ever and she is blown away by the generosity of North Canterbury people.

“It went really well. We’re absolutely delighted. We had a great turnout on the night, right across the Waimak district.

“We collected 2065 Toot for Tucker bags and lots of boxes as well, so that’s well up on last year.”

Toot for Tucker started in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquakes as a way of bringing together food and grocery items for people who were struggling.

At the time, North Canterbury foodbanks were empty, as their resources had gone into Christchurch.

Bev says one reason the charity initiative is so successful is that it’s easy
and relatively cheap for people to get involved.

“And more than that, all donations go back into the local community via the
Salvation Army in Rangiora, the Kaiapoi Community Pantry and the Oxford
Community Trust Pantry.

“We initially started collecting in Rangiora, then went up to Oxford, and were
now looking at working more closely with Cust, where the fire brigade got involved this year for the first time.

“There, we’re thinking of turning it into some kind of event like a street party, where people can bring their bags down and have fun.”

This year, 300 collectors volunteered across the district, some of whom have
already put their name down for next year. As always, all the official cars carried Toot for Tucker identification and they were all accompanied
by walkers wearing high-vis.

“I’m so proud of North Canterbury. We couldn’t do it without these amazing
volunteers, or without the support of the Lions and the Fire Service,” Bev says.

“We collected more than 1000 bags in Rangiora, and the quality of donations this year was outstanding and so thoughtful.”

There were some grinches who, despite the event being widely promoted, took exception to a few minutes of noise in their street.
Several volunteers copped flak for tooting, bags were snatched from some young collectors, and one driver even had their car attacked.

“We do apologise to those who find it offensive, but it’s one hour a year. The police know all about it beforehand, and just look at the results.”
Bev’s key message is that if you need a helping hand, put your hand out for help.

“Toot for Tucker is all about community helping community. And often we’re
talking about the working poor, who are never good at coming forward. So many of us have been there.

“You manage to get through Christmas, and then there are the uniforms or the camp fees in the New Year; or unexpected bills or costs like a new tyre for the car.

“Go have a chat with the Salvation Army or the community pantries and see
what they can do for you. Not doing so is a bit like having insurance and never calling
on it.”