Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Bay of Plenty kiwifruit and avocado orchardists who pack their fruit with DMS Progrowers Ltd are digging into their own pockets to support food banks, health services and other charities who are under pressure due to COVID-19.
The DMS Progrowers Charitable Trust will donate $180,000 to eight different organisations across the Western Bay of Plenty this year.
The trust was formed in 2018 and growers voluntarily contribute one or two cents per tray of fruit to the trust.
The money raised is then matched by DMS Progrowers Ltd, doubling the size of the overall contribution to local charities.
Andre Hickson, chair of the DMS Progrowers Charitable Trust, says by banding together, local growers are able to make a substantial contribution to some great causes including Waipuna Hospice, St John, Tauranga Foodbank, Empowerment Te Puke and Katikati Community Centre.
“Many people helped support our industry through Psa and now it’s our turn to support communities,” Hickson says.
“We’ve all been very fortunate; we’ve had most of our fruit picked and while we’ve still got a long way to go in the season, growers are keen to help their community and give back in some way. You’ve just got to do, what you’ve got to do – that is how New Zealand has got through this crisis.”
Andre says the five trustees who select grant recipients recognise that health services such as St John and Waipuna Hospice, are always under pressure and the demand for food parcels is at an all-time high.
Traditional fundraising activities have also been curtailed due to Covid-19 and many charities will suffer a major income drop this year as a result.
“We keep in touch with organisations we support and because of Covid we started to hear a lot of sad stories. We have switched our focus a little bit to support the food banks in Tauranga, Katikati and Te Puke this year which may have otherwise not been on our radar.”
One organisation that soldiered on throughout lockdown to help support at-risk young men in the Bay of Plenty will receive $5000 from DMS Progrowers Charitable Trust for the first time this year.
Live for More provides surf therapy programmes in conjunction with counselling, group work, mentoring and social support for young men caught up in our criminal justice system.
Live for More Operations Coordinator, Aisha Te Kani, says nine young men were halfway through their Tai Wātea surf therapy programme when lockdown hit.
There were also 20 young men receiving ongoing support through the weekly Tai Tautoko surf therapy programme, which supports past Tai Wātea graduates.
“We maintained connection with them through one-on-one video counselling sessions. We also did exercise training videos just to keep them busy and their minds occupied, and just to let them know we’re here.”
The Tauranga-based programme began in 2016 and has since helped countless men turn their lives around.
“A lot of them report to us that if they hadn’t done the programme, they probably wouldn’t still be alive,” Aisha says.
“We wouldn't be able to do this level of life-changing work without the generosity of people like DMS Progrowers so we’re very thankful.”
Other new grant recipients this year include St John ($30,000) to support their work across the region and the Graeme Dingle Foundation ($20,000) to run a school programme in Te Puke.
The trust’s cornerstone grant of $70,000 will go to Waipuna Hospice, while other previous recipients will once again receiving funding this year including Empowerment Te Puke ($35,000 to run the food bank and social services), Tauranga Foodbank ($5000), Katikati Community Centre ($5000 for a new volunteer brokerage service), and Te Aranui Youth Trust ($5000).Back