27 September 2018
Packages with quintessential Kiwi treats were packed today for hundreds of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel, from Antarctica to Africa, who will spend Christmas on duty.
In the initiative, started by the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) nearly 80 years ago, Defence Minister Ron Mark joined schoolchildren, veterans, civilian volunteers and military personnel in packing some festive cheer for the soldiers, sailors and airmen serving in the NZDF’s 15 missions overseas.
“These gift parcels are our way of telling everyone serving our country overseas that we care and value their service,” RSA president BJ Clark said.
The packages included Christmas cards written by students from Mt Cook Primary School and Silverstream Primary School, as well as quality Kiwi treats like Pams Finest Salted Caramel and Almond Cookies, licorice treats, pesto and aioli dips, and Pams Finest Dark Chocolate Almond Butter.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said. Christmas was a challenging time to be deployed because it was the time personnel missed their families the most.
“So any effort to bring Christmas cheer to our personnel serving overseas reflects our appreciation for their service and can make a huge difference,” Major General Gall said.
One of those who helped pack the gift parcels was New Zealand Army Captain Raylene Grant, who said she felt valued when she received one of these packages while deployed to Israel and Lebanon two years ago.
“It was exciting to open the parcel and get treats from home. However, the most moving part for me was reading the Christmas cards, which came from primary school students in Lower Hutt, a rest home in Nelson and volunteers working with people with disabilities,” Captain Grant said.
“They thanked me for my service and wished me a nice Christmas. It was really sweet and made me miss home.” RSA chief executive Jack Steer thanked all the volunteers who helped packed the Christmas parcels and Pams for donating the goods.