Community Kindness Provides Winter Warmth For Westies

An Auckland-wide registered charity is providing much-needed blankets and duvets to disadvantaged families this winter. Give A Kid A Blanket was started in 2015 by social practice artists Bernie Harfleet and Donna Turtle Sarten. The Trusts is proud to support the charity which operates out of a Trust-owned warehouse in Henderson.

The concept behind the charity is simple as Bernie explains: ‘With the help of the community of kindness that has gathered around the project, we collect donated blankets and other items of warmth and care. We then gift them to kids and their families in need through service providers including police, public health nurses, social and community workers.’

Give A Kid A Blanket has no direct contact with the families. Social workers, nurses, refuges and the police are the link between the charity and those who need help.

From humble beginnings, the charity’s impact has grown each year. Last year 31,000 blankets, duvets and sleeping bags were gifted to vulnerable children and families. In addition, 20,000 other warm items including beanies, socks, hot water bottles and pyjamas were also distributed.

‘Every single item counts,’ says Bernie. ‘We are a donation-based organisation, and I’m constantly blown away by the generosity of the community.’

This winter will be more challenging than ever. The number of families in need is likely to increase as a result of the hardship unleashed by Covid-19. However, Bernie has already noticed a drop in the volume of donated items. He puts this down to the pandemic. More families are hanging on to blankets and duvets rather than donating them as they did pre-Covid.

‘We know there are still lots of families living in cold, damp and overcrowded conditions. Many Aucklanders will be sleeping in cars, sleepouts, shared beds or even on floors,’ says Bernie.

‘Our blankets and warm items make an immediate difference. And most important of all, they show that people out there care.’

Give A Kid A Blanket is in desperate need of donations. New or good quality, pre-loved items are always welcome, and with 64 drop-off points throughout Auckland, there’s bound to be one nearby. The charity also welcomes cash donations through a Give A Little page. Bernie says the cash is used to fill the gaps and ensures there is always a wide range of items available.

Although the charity is mainly a winter initiative, it continues to operate on a reduced level throughout the year.

‘We have close links with Waitemata Police, local women’s refuges as well as health and social workers. We now provide emergency help for families in need all-year-round,’ says Bernie.

If you would like to make a donation or get involved, then visit the charity’s Facebook page. With more than 11,000 followers, the initiative already has a fantastic community of support.

However, your help is needed this winter more than ever. Every donation means that fewer local children get sick or have to take time off school because they are too tired. Check out the Facebook page for full details on the drop-off locations or contribute via Give A Little. And become a part of a community kindness action that makes a real difference.

The Trusts are proud to support Give A Kid A Blanket via providing space for them to operate in at our Railside Ave premises.