The initiative of a craft group in Alexandra to support a struggling family last Christmas has inspired others, leading to two families receiving support last year and three this Christmas.

Alexandra Spinners and Weavers spokeswoman Anne Dougherty said the group used to buy small gifts for each other at Christmas but decided last year the money would be better spent collectively on a cause.

Many of the group knew Shona Bain and that she worked with struggling families in her work at the Central Otago Rural Education Activities Programme (Reap), so they sought her advice.

Central Otago Reap holds the government contract for the Strengthening Families programme, and Mrs Bain is the programme’s team leader.

Inspired by the Spinners and Weavers initiative to support a family with handmade items and food vouchers, Mrs Bain presented it to the Alexandra Sewing Circle, of which she is a member, and they chose to do the same.

In her Reap role, Mrs Bain relayed the gratitude of the families concerned, and Mrs Dougherty shared that story not only with the donors in her craft group, but with two other organisations where she is active.

This Christmas, the Lions Club of Clyde and Districts, of which Mrs Dougherty is a past-president, had chosen to support a family with food vouchers, and the petanque club for which she plays is looking after another family.

The Spinners and Weavers group has again donated goods and vouchers for a third family.

Mrs Bain said for the recipients, such support could be life-changing.

Strengthening Families “provides families with wraparound services that will improve their lives”, she said.

“The families decide what they want and it’s my job to make it happen.”

Mrs Dougherty said the donors were happy to help where they could.