Christmas Appeal: Bluehaven Groups donates $15,000 for crucial new van for foodbank

By Cira Olivier

The cost of a new van for the Tauranga Community Foodbank has been mostly covered – thanks to a generous discount and a substantial donation.

It means the Tauranga Community Foodbank now has two vans, and the extra service it can provide with the new vehicle has been a combined effort of generosity.

Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said the service bought the new van from Tauranga Cars for a generous discount of $17,000 last week.

This was an exciting moment for the team which delivers 15 per cent of the food parcels each week where people are not in a financial position to collect them. The van is also used to collect food.

Before the foodbank had time to celebrate, Pāpāmoa’s Bluehaven Group – a specialist property company – reached out to it on Monday, offering to pay for most of it with a $15,000 donation.

“Originally they were saying $10,000 and then they rang me back after speaking to the CEO and said ‘No, $15,000’,” Goodwin said, elated.

This meant the money which was put towards buying the van could now be used to buy food.

“It’s just so unexpected.”

The expansion of the service is a direct result of the community’s generous support in the first two weeks of the Bay of Plenty Times’ annual six-week Christmas Appeal for the foodbank, in partnership with Gilmours Wholesale Food and Beverage Tauriko.

One week in with the new van, Goodwin said logistically things were a lot easier and said the new van would mean deliveries could “easily increase by 100 per cent, at least double”.

She said they tried to manage without owning a second vehicle but realised this was not possible.

The foodbank’s chairman, Larry Bilodeau, said the donation from Bluehaven Group was “over and above”.

“Without a doubt, we live in a generous community and people are so happy to give food and support to the hungry … but this is over and above. I was blown away,” he said.

Bluehaven Group chief executive Nathan York said after seeing the foodbank needed a new van, it thought it would put its donation towards something which could be used long term.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

York said his staff would also be lending their hands to volunteer at the foodbank

Chief financial officer Jade Murphy said as well as helping the wider Tauranga area, Bluehaven hoped this would help reach those who needed it in Pāpāmoa, which is where Goodwin said there was a lot of need.

“It’s good to know it can reach people at this time of the year.”