More than 1500 ARISE Church volunteers came out last Saturday in nine locations across New Zealand to support people and families who have been struggling in recent times, and help refugees who have fled Afghanistan settle into local life.
The effort was part of the church’s annual Serve Day, organised by its care arm, ARISE Care.
With donations of food, essential household items and finance from those who attend ARISE, as well as support from local businesses, the volunteer army came together to put together care packages for people and families who are doing it tough because of COVID or other life events.
ARISE Church Lead Pastor John Cameron said that in these uncertain times, it is important to look after one another, and called the day “a breathtaking demonstration of love in action.”
“Thousands of people from our ARISE family across the country have taken the time to donate goods and money to provide support for Afghan refugees and Kiwis in need because of COVID-19.”
Volunteer Mike Hook, who was volunteering at the Dunedin location said the generosity was overwhelming but also inspiring.
“Three people who lived on the street came and asked what we were doing and then went out of their way to get things to donate. They had no affiliation with our church, they just decided to give when they heard about our drive and cause.”
While many locals have been provided with care packages, ARISE has also recently partnered with the Red Cross to support refugees from Afghanistan who will soon be settling in New Zealand.
The church aims to provide every Afghan refugee family with a welcome care package of pantry items, as well as essential household items to set up their new home.
Over 8000 food items and more than 1000 household items were donated across the nine locations from Dunedin to Whangarei. The South Island branch of My Food Bag contributed two pallets of food, while Wellington Vietnamese restaurant The Old Quarter donated half a tonne of rice.
Logan Craig, an ARISE Church staff member who volunteered in Wellington summed up the feeling of the day.
“To be able to meet practical needs of people that are truly struggling is an incredible feeling. Serving our community made it feel like I was contributing to the bigger picture.”
Pastor John thanked the ARISE family.
“Thank you for caring. Thank you for doing something to make a difference. Thank you for loving others. Thank you for living the love of God. Thank you for helping to make the lives of others better.”