Here in New Zealand we are so very lucky - we live in a beautiful country with plenty of opportunity and a lifestyle that is the envy of many around the world. But the terrible and very real truth is that, even here, 1 in 4 children are still living without the basics.
Currently 254,000 Kiwi kids live in poverty with 174,000 living in food insecurity. Studies show these same children are less likely to complete secondary schooling or continue on to higher learning compared to their classmates simply because of their circumstance.
This is where KidsCan comes in. KidsCan is a New Zealand charity with a mission to provide food, clothing and basic health care in schools thus enabling disadvantaged Kiwi kids to reach their full potential.
They do this by acting as a conduit for individuals (like you!), communities, businesses (like us!) and the government to cooperate and provide for these youngsters in need. KidsCan's ultimate goal is to level the playing field by providing these day to day essentials that all kids should take for granted, thus providing the same bright future and opportunity for everyone.
'KidsCan exists to meet the physical and nutritional needs of Kiwi kids less fortunate than others. It’s our mission to provide the essentials to Kiwi kids affected by poverty so they can participate in learning and have an opportunity for a better future.'
You only have to look at the news headlines at the start of the school year to see how deeply poverty affects our country's youngsters. In late January of this year, online media Stuff reported it would take up to three weeks for one school to reach its full roll after the start of the school year with families being unable to afford food for the kid's lunch boxes or back to school supplies. One family sent each of their four boys to school on a different day as they only had one school shirt to share between them.
Such circumstances, in turn, causes embarrassment and anxiety among not only the parents but the children as well. According to an interview with a teacher "...(we've had) children with store stomachs, anxiety, crying etc because they do not have the right uniform, stationary, shoes or money to go on camps".
One way that KidsCan helps alleviate these issues is by working in direct partnership with schools. Boosting efforts already set in place by caring teachers, KidsCan provides food, coats, shoes and even toiletries to schools to distribute directly to their students. Working in this way with schools and teachers ensures these essential goods reach the students most in need. Children are provided a secure meal, shoes for their feet, fleece-lined raincoats and even sanitary products for young women who had previously been skipping school as they couldn't afford the products they needed.
The kids are fed, warm, healthy and can focus on learning. Creating this safe environment makes a huge difference. Schools who have received assistance have reported improvements in attendance, attention spans and overall learning in their students.
'Education is a child’s ticket out of poverty. It is how we will break the cycle of hardship, and it is at the core of everything KidsCan does. Food, a warm jacket, solid shoes, feminine hygiene products - these are things we want every child to take for granted. We are levelling the playing field, giving children whose families are struggling the same opportunity to learn as anyone else.'
KidsCan has a huge vision: their wish is to help create a better New Zealand for ALL Kiwi kids. The charity currently helps to feed 34,000 Kiwi kids every day, but there are still thousands of others that are missing out, and many schools still on waiting lists to receive assistance.
Of particular strain to families in poverty right now is the COVID-19 outbreak. With kids forced to stay at home due to social distancing measures, many are missing out on meals they relied on. KidsCan currently supplies food to 787 schools and 55 early childhood centres throughout New Zealand. With lockdown closures and requests for children to be kept home from school, KidsCan is finding alternative means to ensure food gets to those who need it the most. Particular emphasis is being placed on vulnerable families in rural communities that are missing out on the additional help being seen in the main centres through the likes of food banks.
In early April, with the Level 4 lockdown in effect here in New Zealand, KidsCan launched an urgent appeal: Give $19 for Covid-19. Their aim was to raise $500,000 to deliver 3000 food parcels to families most in need during this time. By just giving $19, Kiwis could ensure that other Kiwi families won't go hungry during Covid-19. You can read more about the appeal via SCOOP during the initial launch back in April.
By the time of this writing, the appeal had completed with the end of the Level 4 lockdown, the below image was taken during the appeal with another week to go.
In the end, the generosity of both Kiwis and those further afield made their donations and blitzed the $500,000 goal. By the end of the Level 4 lockdown, donations from the appeal had allowed KidsCan to create 4000 food parcels (1000 more than the initial goal) - this equates to 16,000 boxes going out to families in need.
YOU CAN STILL HELP to ensure that NO Kiwi family goes hungry during this pandemic and beyond. You can "Support a child in our own backyard" by setting up a direct one time or monthly donation to KidsCan. Click on the link above or head to the KidsCan website. A donation of $60 will support 2 children for that entire month.
You and your organisation can also contact KidsCan to arrange for a fundraising event or if you have a business (like us here at Paper Rain) you can become a partner and find out how you and your company can become involved in the programme directly.
At Paper Rain we are helping by making KidsCan our latest Cause linked to our products. For every Men's, Women's or Kid's NEW KIWI TEE, 8% of the profit goes directly to KidsCan. In other words, by clothing you and your family in a Paper Rain Kiwi Tee you are not only helping a woman out of modern day slavery and helping to save the planet but you're also making tomorrow a little bit brighter for another Kiwi kid! THANK YOU!