Written by John Williams
It was a busy, early morning start for the staff at Ray White’s Ponsonby Road office, as they wrapped up the last of the nearly five hundred presents that had been donated over the past few weeks. Receptionist, Renae Te Maro, who had been the main go-to person for this year’s initiative, said they’d been overwhelmed with gifts over the past few days. “It’s just amazing how many presents we’ve got here,” she says. “It’s by far our best year, by a long way.”
With the car loaded up, the next stop was just down the road at Freemans Bay Kindergarten, where Karly Te Maro, Renae’s niece, who is one of the teachers at the centre, greeted us. The children were so excited to see us and show us all the presents that had been collected. I think some of them thought they were theirs! But I’m sure they’ll all have plenty come Christmas morning.
Next on the list was First Steps Grey Lynn Childcare, where centre manager, Chelsea Compton, gave us a huge basket of gifts for Ronald McDonald House. Ray White’s Simon Damerell was on hand to present the centre with a certificate of thanks, as he had done at the previous kindergarten. Simon’s wagon was now chocka with presents. Next stop, Auckland Hospital… and our final destination, Ronald McDonald House.
Ronald McDonald House provides a home-away-from-home and a safe haven for the families of the sick children who are up on the wards in Auckland Hospital. Though the average length of stay is seven days, many families will need to stay for weeks, or even months on end, according to Lena Pfitzner, the Corporate Partnership Officer at the charity.
“Auckland hospital is the main centre in New Zealand for cardiac and transplant treatments, so many of our long-stay children have had complex procedures. And once they’ve had their surgery, they will have to stay in isolation for up to 100 days, or even longer, to prevent infection. The longest a family has been with us is four years,” she adds
On a cheerier note, she says there’s a huge Christmas party planned for December 20th at the house. “Santa will be coming, we have face painting, and there’ll be a fairy flying around – and of course the children will get all those gifts you’ve just delivered to us. And then, on Christmas Day, the families who are with us over that period will be given more gifts.”
"We try to make it a great time for the whole family, where everyone gets a gift.”
“But the focus is not just on the sick child,” she says. “There will also be presents for their brothers and sisters.
Lena says the children who are well enough will be able to come down off the ward to enjoy the Christmas festivities and open their presents with their families. Unfortunately, for the transplant patients the risk of infection is too great, so they’ll have to stay on the wards – however, they will be getting a very special delivery on the 25th!
It was certainly very sobering listening to Lena talk about the sick children and the sacrifices their families have to make. However, it was immensely rewarding knowing we had delivered nearly 500 presents that will help make their Christmas just a little bit more enjoyable.
This is the third year Ray White Ponsonby has actively supported this cause, and they will certainly be involved next year, according to Simon Damerell.
“Little Ray of Giving sits very comfortable with our values of being a responsible community corporate,” says Simon
“It can’t be about the bottom line all the time. There’s no point in just making money – you need to give back to the community, and not just a one-off, once a year. At Ray White Ponsonby, we have a number of events and causes that we actively get behind. The Little Ray of Giving is just one of many. “Let’s aim for a thousand gifts next year,” he smiles.
A Massive Thank You To...
Karly Te Maro at Freemans Bay Kindergarten, Chelsea Compton at First Steps Grey Lynn Childcare, Edward Stratton at Auckland Design & Build, Mark Ockleston at Sharper Cuts, all the people from our community that dropped presents into our office throughout the week and to all the staff and their families at Ray White Damerell Group Ponsonby and Grey Lynn.
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