by MICHAEL OTTO
St Vincent de Paul in Hamilton was inundated with offers of support from the community after their charity van was vandalised recently.
Local media reported that the van was broken into and its ignition system damaged on the night of June 5-6.
It had been parked behind the SVDP shop in Frankton.
The SVDP team in Hamilton goes out into the community five nights a week and feeds more than 500 people each week in lower income areas of the city.
But the publicity generated a strong community response.
Chris Grace from New World Te Rapa loaned SVDP the supermarket’s work van, so food was able to be delivered by volunteers on June 8.
People in Fairfield were waiting at the normal time for the van and they were anxious that they might not be getting their food, said Mike Rolton, general manager of SVDP Hamilton.
“They were really relieved that we turned up,” he said.
He had told media that some of the people rely on the SVDP to help them get through the week.
There were also offers from the community to pay for repairs to the van and others offering the use of vehicles. The offers were still rolling in days after the story was reported.
“To be honest, the Waikato people are really good when it comes to things like that, and through the year with the food they donate,” Mr Rolton said.“It is good to know that people recognise what we do.”
The van was insured, and it was repaired sooner than expected. Mr Rolton told local media that the break-in to the van probably involved someone who knew their schedule and therefore it was probably someone who had been helped.
Police had been notified. There were security cameras where the van was parked.
Local media also reported a recent surge in demand for free school lunches provided by SVDP Hamilton.
Also of concern for SVDP locally are mobile homeware trucks targeting low income areas, zero hours contracts and an increase in free-meal demand.