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A strong response to community projects means a merrier Christmas for those in need in Central Otago this year.

In Wanaka, the Salvation Army joined with Community Networks Wanaka to support families, with the Queenstown Corps donating $1000 worth of supermarket vouchers to top up Christmas dinner hampers.

Each year, the Community Networks Foodbank provides hampers at Christmas alongside staple food items.

Food Security Project co-ordinator Daisy Watford said the support from the community this year had been incredible.

A local businessman donated $2000 worth of Lions Christmas cakes, the Donnelly Property Team donated 20 hams, the Upper Clutha Community Christmas Trust raised $1000 through their Santa’s Grotto, the Wanaka Rotary Club collected children’s books and Ray White Wanaka collected gifts for children through its Little Ray of Giving campaign.

In Alexandra, volunteers at the Salvation Army offices were busily sorting through boxes of donated goods ranging from handmade wooden toys to the latest brand-name gifts to make up Christmas hampers.

Salvation Army Captain Logan Bathurst said the aim this year was to make up about 80 hampers.

The church community co-ordinates with as many other social services as possible to provide for as many families as possible, he said.

Volunteer Liz Conway is in her fifth year of working on the campaign, and thanked all donors, including Alexandra Paper Plus.

The bookstore donated more than 150 new books, $300 in vouchers and multiple boxes of products this year, she said.

Mrs Conway’s children, Jackson and Maia have helped out each year by selecting gifts they think children of different age groups would want, as the services tries to customise the gifts for each family.

“When making up the hampers, we know the ages and genders of the children, so every kid will get something, or several things, that seem cool,” Mrs Conway said.