When donors meet the kids they support
Four wide-eyed Northland teenagers couldn’t keep the smiles off their faces as they sailed around Milford Sound last weekend, on a truly unique KidsCan fundraiser.
“We went on speedboats, and we looked at all the mountains, and we saw baby penguins and baby seals! That was my highlight. I was so happy!” 15-year-old Te-Arani Bennett says.
Tourism operator Real Journeys donated an overnight cruise to KidsCan, with some of our supporters snapping up tickets. It raised $13,920 to help students, including Te-Arani, at Whangarei’s Tikipunga High School.
Thanks to some amazing donors, four Tikipunga students were invited to go too. One had never been on a plane before, and none had been to the deep south. “There was a lot of water everywhere and it was really cold!” Te-Arani says.
She said being able to mingle onboard with KidsCan donors, whose monthly contributions help support students nationwide, was just as amazing.
“I knew a lot of people supported KidsCan, but I didn’t know how much it impacted them [personally]. And how much of a difference they make to my life. It was really overwhelming to meet all the people who supported that kaupapa (programme).”
“They got to listen to what we want to be when we grow up - we told them about the universities we want to go to and the things we wanted to study.”
Tikipunga’s principal Alec Solomon said seeing his students so elated was “a feeling you can’t buy.”
“You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how excited our kids were with Queenstown, and flying, and with everything. And that’s only possible when people that can help, do.”
“We’re not after a hand out, but to even the playing field on occasion, we need a hand up. And it was wonderful to see our kids were so comfortable surrounded by these very successful businessmen and women, and for me it’s super important that our kids know not only do they have every right to be in those realms but can succeed and flourish in them.”
“For [the donors], it puts a face to their generosity. These are some of the many kids around the country that are benefiting. I think we’re all a bit blown away by just how passionate they were about our kids succeeding. We will be forever in debt to those people, because it makes a massive difference,” he says.
KidsCan provides food, shoes, raincoats and health items to students at Tikipunga, some of whom have been living in emergency housing, or overcrowded homes.
“The food just allows us to remove one of several challenges that our tamariki have,” Alec says.
“I’d love to think that one day some of our kids will be in a position to support KidsCan themselves.”
If you or anyone you know would like to help KidsCan on their mission of ensuring all Kiwi kids have the basics to succeed at school please support a child at www.kidscan.org.nz