Wakatipu Greatest Needs Appeal
Queenstown altruists have raised more than half a million dollars to help the district's most vulnerable residents in the wake of Covid-19.
The Wakatipu Greatest Needs Fund, established by the Wakatipu Community Foundation, has drawn $573,000 from private donors and the general public, as of Friday.
Lead fundraiser Kaye Parker says donations have come from far and wide.
For the first four-and-a-half weeks, the fundraising committee worked to secure private donations before launching the appeal officially last Thursday, expanding its reach to the public.
"We're now getting donations from around New Zealand, which is really heartwarming," Parker says.
"Some [donors] have phoned me and they don't actually have a connection to Queenstown, because I always ask. They just saw the need and the plight and really got we're one of the worst affected communities."
Queenstown Lakes District Council has received more than 10,000 requests for help from people in the community, the majority migrants who've lost their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. It has distributed more than $600,000 of aid, mostly in the form of grocery vouchers. The Salvation Army has seen a 600% increase in requests for help since the lockdown began.
The Hugo Charitable Trust was the founding donor to the Wakatipu Greatest Needs Fund, pledging $25k and another $25k if the fund reached $250,000.
All donations from the fund will go to frontline charities. So far, it has granted about $160,000 to Queenstown's Salvation Army, Happiness House, Kiwi Harvest, Volunteering Central, Basket of Blessing, and Central Lakes Family Services.
It also funded a coach to Christchurch Airport for 26 Brazilians in the resort, so they could catch a repatriation flight from Auckland. The coach left at midnight last night.
"It was bitter-sweet for some. Huge relief for those who had been stranded here unexpectedly, but it was sombre and for the South American community it was devastating to have to say goodbye to their relatives and friends.
"So many of them had been here for ages, while others had been for two years and got caught in the trap of no prospects of a job, no prospect of any funds."
Wakatipu Community Foundation chairman Ray Key, the chief executive Jennifer Belmont, Tony McQuilkin, Aoibheann Monighan and Bill Moran are on the fundraising committee, while Parker and Sir Eion are ambassadors.
Parker says more grants will be made at a later date. The committee is expecting a "tsunami" of welfare need in the community once three key Government initiatives end - the wage subsidy, the temporary ban on landlords evicting tenants, and when the Civil Emergency Funding.
Sir Eion has set a $1 million target.
"That's our goal. The first half is always the easiest but we will do everything in our power to achieve that.
"I just keep telling everybody this community is amazing."
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