Wellington bus changes bring windfall for foodbank

Wellington bus changes bring windfall for foodbank

A commuter’s moment of inspiration, and some hard work between two parishioners from St Michael and All Angels in the Wellington suburb of Newlands has resulted in a windfall for the Newlands foodbank.

Parishioner Megan Devine says “Wayne Renalson texted me one morning with an idea while on the bus to work.  The local pre-paid bus cards were being replaced by Snapper cards and people with Newlands bus cards had to apply for a refund of the balances left on their cards from the bus company.  We thought a lot of people wouldn’t bother and wondered if we could get their card balances for a community group like the foodbank.  I checked with the bus company and got their agreement, then used social media to spread the word to the community.”  She approached local retailers to get them to hold consent forms and collect cards from people.  “I thought we might get 100 cards, and maybe raise $500 for the foodbank.  If we got that I thought it would be a great result.”

Within the first week, Megan already had 250 cards.  “The response from the community was overwhelming!  People were so pleased to have an opportunity to do something positive without having to go through the hassle of applying for their balances themselves” said Megan.  By the cut-off date, she had 482 bus cards, some from as far away as Napier and Nelson.  “I felt so sorry for the poor lady at the bus company who has to process all these cards, so I offered to help to make it easier.  I was going cross-eyed loading all the details into a spreadsheet to make the process as easy for them as I could!”

It will take a few weeks for the bus company to process all the cards, but the foodbank will be up by several thousand dollars.

As Newlands-Paparangi Vicar Rev Jennie Sim explains, “the idea fitted so well with our parish vision of being and building community.  We like to support local community groups, to join in with what God is already doing in our community, and to help others to be involved too.  We know from our efforts in collecting goods for the refugee resettlement project that our local community loves an opportunity to be involved, and often people are just looking for an easy way to do that. This initiative has been a very successful way of doing that, with the bonus of raising awareness of the need to care for those in our community who need a bit of help.”

“Huge thanks are due to Newlands/Mana Bus Services for agreeing to do this, and also our lovely retailers who agreed to collect consent forms and cards from people” says Megan.  “Without them we couldn’t have done this.  And of course the biggest thanks are to all those in our community who donated their cards so that we could help the foodbank help others.”

UPDATE 25 SEPTEMBER 2018: Rev Jennie Sim advises us that this campaign brought in nearly 500 bus cards, with a total of $7,840 being donated to the Newlands Foodbank!  Well done!


Story: Newlands-Paparangi Parish. 

Photo: Wayne Renalson (L) and Megan Devine of Newlands-Paparangi Parish show some of the refund application forms collected, allowing Newlands Bus Service card balances to be donated to the local foodbank.