Volunteers from the supermarket, defence and charity sectors have come together today to pack RSA Gift Parcels for the 220 New Zealand military personnel currently on overseas deployments.
The parcel packers – including schoolchildren, veterans, and several store managers from Countdown – met in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Sports Complex at Trentham, Wellington. Countdown donated more than $15,000 worth of iconic Kiwi treats including Marmite, Peanut Slabs, Anzac biscuits, and the ingredients to make the Kiwi summertime classic, onion dip.
Each of the parcels includes a card written by a local Wellington primary school pupil.
Once packed, a complex and concerted relay involving NZ Post, DHL, Royal New Zealand Air Force and allied air forces would ensure the parcels were delivered to New Zealand personnel deployed overseas, in time for Christmas.
Countdown General Manager Corporate Affairs, James Walker said food played such an important role in defining where we come from, Countdown was delighted to provide a taste from home to our Kiwi troops overseas.
NZDF Maritime Component Commander Commodore (CDRE) Jim Gilmour said the parcels had a long and welcome history, and provided a valuable link between deployed personnel and home. “While we enjoy the holidays at home, we have personnel deployed overseas who may be missing home. These gift parcels are our way of saying how thankful we are for their service and their time away from home,” he said.
The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RNZRSA) has sent the packages to deployed military personnel for 76 years, through more than 45 operational deployments.
RNZRSA National President BJ Clark received the parcels while deployed on operations in the Sinai and Antarctica. “When Kiwi troops are overseas, helping those who can’t help themselves, it’s an understatement to say conditions can get challenging. Even in situations where we were well-supplied, everyone feels a long way from home at Christmas time on operations,” Mr Clark said.
“It’s difficult to express how special it is, unwrapping a box full of uniquely Kiwi treats – and reading the card. It makes a big difference, and we really appreciate Countdown for their generosity in making this happen.”