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David Letele and Middlemore Foundation join forces for sick and disabled tamariki this Christmas

David Letele and Middlemore Foundation join forces for sick and disabled tamariki this Christmas

The cost of living crisis means Christmas will be a difficult time for many in South Auckland, especially for the hundreds of families with disabled or sick children supported by Kidz First, Middlemore’s children hospital.

Community advocate Dave Letele and his organisation BBM are pairing with Middlemore Foundation to give children looked after by Kidz First and their families a little extra support for the holiday season.

“Families in South Auckland have been doing it tough, and this Christmas will be hard – even more so for the 600 families looking after disabled or sick children at home as well the kids stuck in hospital wards,” says Letele.

The Kidz First Christmas campaign is looking to raise more than $80,000 to be shared with the 600 families in need, covering a magical Christmas party, gifts for each child, and a fresh BBM Food Share Pack for families.

“For children, Christmas is the biggest event on their calendar. We need to make sure that no one misses out. If you can help, let’s make it a good one for these kids,” says Letele.

Margi Mellsop, CEO of the Middlemore Foundation, says the impact of Kidz First’s support for local families is enormous.

“The parents tell us how much they love the team at Kidz First, who always go the extra mile for them and their children.

“Our team has recently provided support for one of the families in our community – their 4-year-old son has cerebral palsy, and they lost their home in the Mangere Bridge fire. Dave has also been working with other affected families in the area.”

Kidz First Christmas is Middlemore Foundation’s last fundraising drive for the year, rounding out 2023’s efforts. This year, the Foundation gave over $100,000 to community partners for flood relief, funded 20 Health Science scholarships, and provided over 18,000 pyjamas and winter items for tamariki in need.

Middlemore Foundation also funded nearly $1 million of vital equipment for Middlemore Hospital and Kidz First, including neonatal MRI compatible ventilators and virtual reality goggles to calm children undergoing MRI scans.

As part of New Zealand’s largest hospital, Kidz First was purpose built to provide specialist paediatric care and support for South Auckland families. One child who has been involved with the hospital is Nina Grace. At just 6 years old, Nina has undergone many surgeries for multiple congenital anomalies associated with VACTERL Association, a condition she’s had from birth that can affect various functions in the body.

Every step of the way, Nina and her family have been supported by Kidz First. Most recently she had spinal surgery and is now standing taller than ever. Described by her parents as their miracle baby, Nina adores going to school, making new friends, and learning new things. Her infectious enthusiasm and determination have touched the hearts of everyone she meets.

As a Kidz First patient living in the South Auckland community with long-term health needs, Nina will be attending the Kidz First Christmas party, after enjoying her day last year – having her face painted, meeting Santa, and playing with other kids just like her.

“Knowing the community, all the Kidz First nurses and staff, and the donors who helped put it on for our sick kids and their families is just amazing. They are an incredible support for families like ours,” says Nina Grace’s mum.

“Last year’s Kidz First Christmas party was absolutely awesome and seeing the kids’ big smiles was my favourite part. Thank you so much again for being able to help make it possible for all our kids and whnau to be supported again this Christmas.”

To support the Kidz First Christmas, people can donate by putting a virtual decoration on the special Christmas tree on the website – https://www.kidzfirstchristmas.org.nz/

Groups of workmates, classmates, or friends and whānau can fill up boxes with new toys to donate to Kidz First or buy a Kidz First patient a Christmas gift from their wishlist, found here. Any deliveries need to be with the Middlemore Foundation by 15 December 2023.


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