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18th of July 2018

International



Single mum's drive to help Nelson families

Kristy Rowe says she hit upon the idea for her charity, Helping Families, after chatting to a carer friend who provides ... Amy Ridout/ STUFF

Kristy Rowe says she hit upon the idea for her charity, Helping Families, after chatting to a carer friend who provides emergency foster care through Oranga Tamariki.

Kristy Rowe loves to help people. And she's not the only one: since she put a call out for clothing donations three months ago, she's been inundated with donations of preloved clothing and bedding from Nelson people keen to help out.

The single mum from Richmond hit upon the idea for her charity, Helping Families, after chatting to a carer friend who provides emergency foster care through Oranga Tamariki.

"A boy was dropped at her home with just an hour's notice, wearing clothes a size too small," she said. "I have seen other kids who come with almost nothing, no clothes or shoes. I thought, this is a big problem."

While foster families receive a clothing allowance, children must be in their care for at least a month before the payment comes through.

"Children are often uplifted with nothing, the carer has to find them clothes out of their own pocket."

Word's getting around, and Rowe says she's been working non-stop to co-ordinate donations and connect with the people who need them. "I get messages all the time. Last night I got eight banana boxes full of stuff, it's been amazing."

Some people she finds on Facebook, while others find her by word of mouth. 

"I met a lady whose daughter had had a baby, and she had nothing. I asked about the family and there were a lot of children living in the home. I spent two and a half hours with her at the container, finding stuff for the kids and for her. I've dropped off stuff to them since then."

Rowe says she's lucky to have good friends and a close family network to help her through tough times. However, many people in the community find it difficult to get support, thanks to limited English skills, health problems or poverty. 

"People can't afford to go to op shops, or they don't have the transport, or they're ashamed. I'm trying to take the stigma away from asking for help, and accepting  handouts."

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Rowe says juggling her charity work with a fulltime job means there is little time to spare, but she doesn't mind. "I have always liked to help people, I was brought up like that. This is a way I can help without spending money, because I don't have money to spend."

Rowe says she's been overwhelmed by the support from her friends, family and the community. "Stuff is coming in from everyone, word is getting out and it just keeps coming."

While she's always looking for good quality, secondhand clothing, shoes and bedding, Rowe's also on the hunt for storage space. She's appealing to local businesses willing to donate a spare container or corner of a warehouse to deal with some of the overflow. 

She also urges anyone who's struggling for clothing or bedding to get in touch, and she'd like to hear from schools or agencies who would like to co-ordinate with her. You can reach Kristy at facebook.com/helpingfamiliesnelson or helpingfamiliesnelson@outlook.com.



 - Stuff

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