Hastings parish gifts surprise school hit by Cyclone Gabrielle

Cyclone Gabrielle

Hastings charity Thermals for Children surprised a group of young Cyclone Gabrielle survivors with a swag of unexpected gifts last week.

With the Hastings Catholic Parish support, the charity fundraises and supplies local schools with hundreds of bundles of thermals and track pants each winter.

This year the parish have raised more than $26,000 for 1,377 sets of thermals and track pants that will be delivered to 30 schools in the region.

The latest recipients – children from Ōmahu School – were excited with their warm winter surprises when the visitors popped in with them. It was particularly welcome, perhaps, as some of the children lost their homes and all lost their school during Cyclone Gabrielle.

Lee Pepping and Suzanne Rose from Thermals for Children were also excited when they dropped off several boxes of their snug gifts.

It was exciting for them as it’s the first time they have been able to give thermals directly to the students.

“It was so special to see their anticipation and enthusiasm,” Pepping said.

It is challenging for the students and their teachers to be working in the hall at another school, she noted.

But “they are making the most of the present situation and we sensed that they are happy even though it is not ideal,” she added.

Thanks and gratitude

During the gift hand-out, the children gathered around Pepping and Rose and heard about the Thermals for Children project. They learned about how many schools the charity supports, how much money is needed, what the clothes are like and where they come from.

Once the teachers started taking the clothing out of the boxes, Pepping said the kids seemed very excited that the clothing was all for them.

Most of the children made speeches thanking Pepping and Rose and the people of the Catholic Parish of Hastings.

They said they were grateful to them for gifting them the warm clothing as well as making the effort to bring the clothing to them and for talking to them about the project.

Pepping said the kids were interested in what she and Rose talked about.

“They were very grateful for our gift to them all and seemed very happy that their school is the first school that we have met all of the students and staff.”

Each kid spoke beautifully and with confidence and they then sang a beautiful waiata about Ōmahu School for the two women.

“It was quite emotional to hear the kids and their teachers sing with passion about their school,” Pepping said.

“Their smiles gleamed, their eyes sparkled and their sounds of laughter filled our learning space.

“I’m very thankful groups and organisations are thinking of Ōmahu School, in particular Pepping and her church group,” their school principal said.

“People from around Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia and Israel have kindly given items ranging from handmade quilts to knitted scarfs and hats, cards, letters, books and thousands of dollars.”

Pepping and Rose aim to have all the warm winter clothing delivered to participating schools by the end of May.


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