Church 'blown away' as good-hearted Kiwis replace stolen food, gifts for the needy

Rebecca Moore
Source: 1News

St Vincent de Paul Society president Mike Keenan says he's had his spirits boosted by the response from locals, businesses and other organisations who jumped to support his church community after about $2000 of goods destined for needy families this Christmas were stolen.

A large amount of food and gifts that had been collected to distribute to families in need over the festive season were taken from St Patrick's Cathedral on Broadway Ave in Palmerston North at the weekend.

Keenan on Monday told 1 NEWS thieves got away with 10 Christmas-wrapped and decorated parcels donated from a food drive at St James' Catholic School, as well as loose food, including cans, jam, coffee sachets, biscuits, chocolate bars, 500g packets of sugar, bread and 20kg of meat.

He said the value was estimated to have been up to $2000.

But now they've more than replaced what was stolen at the weekend thanks to the generosity of those in the community.

Keenan said they'd received donations from individuals as far as Feilding, as well as "a tremendous gift" from the local Warehouse and Salvation Army.

He did not want to go into detail or put a value on how much they'd been donated this round, but said they'd more than made up for what they lost so declined offers to create a Givealittle page.

"It's mind blowing," Keenan said. "The public response has been fantastic. We couldn't have asked for more.

"It blows my mind, the generosity of people."

Keenan said he struggled in the days following the burglary, but in talking about the donations he said "it boosts your spirits up again".

"Over the days ahead we anticipate donations will continue. Our volunteer group are blown away by the generosity of our local community. We offer them a special thanks."

The church is now looking at installing an alarm system so the crime doesn't happen again, and Keenan said forensics had lifted fingerprints and police were reviewing CCTV footage from the area.

Police say inquiries are continuing.