Operation Blue Santa Taranaki 2020 is officially under way - and this year the team is aiming for 200 food baskets to donate to families in need at Christmas.
The operation is a community project run by Roderique Hope Emergency Housing Trust in collaboration with the New Plymouth Police Family Harm Team.
It’s the fifth consecutive year of the operation and the second year New Plymouth Family Harm officer Constable Catherine Preston has been the lead for Police.
Catherine says the operation gives Police staff the opportunity to identify at-risk families who may be more likely to have a family harm call-out over Christmas, or who are struggling in severe hardship and poverty.
“Before Christmas, police and social support services visit nominated families with a Blue Santa Basket containing staple food items and Christmas treats," says Catherine. "The aim is to check in on the families to ensure a safety plan is in place should a situation arise over the Christmas break.
Police in Taranaki attended 5507 family harm incidents between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020. More than 33 percent of these call-outs involved children being present.
“This year has been extremely challenging for some families. In previous years they have always been very appreciative of receiving a basket from our staff and, for some families, the engagement with them is the turning point from what was a negative relationship or association into a positive one.”
This year the goal is to produce 200 baskets (50 more than last year) for Taranaki, with a fundraising goal of $20,000. The cost of one Operation Blue Santa Basket is $85.
“It’s a very cool community project and we have so many of our local businesses and agencies getting onboard by either donating goods or volunteering to pack the baskets," says Catherine. "The success of Blue Santa has grown year-on-year.
“The Trust does some amazing work and, by partnering up, we can help alleviate some of the pressure on families at what should be a joyous time of year.
“Our awesome station frontline support officer Jock has kindly volunteered to be the Blue Santa this year and will be decked out in style in a custom-made blue velour suit. He will assist us when we deliver the baskets to large families as a treat for the children.”
Earlier this week, Police released details of a Blue Santa initiative in Gisborne. Read the article here