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Source: University of Otago

Social Impact Studio Manager Sze-En Watts and Programme Activator Tash Cox with donations for Foster Hope Otago.
University staff and students have played their part in fostering a little Christmas cheer for more than 800 children in Otago this year.
The University, through the co-ordination of the Social Impact Studio, took part in this year’s Foster Hope Live, Love Local Christmas Gift Drive, and staff and students outdid themselves with their generosity.
Social Impact Studio Programme Activator Tash Cox says they are overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness shown by many departments and divisions across the Dunedin campus.
Handmade knitted teddy bears.
“We had ordered 100 boxes, which we thought might be optimistic, but wow has the giving surpassed our expectations.”
Ms Cox says they were blown away by not only the quantity of gifts but the quality, with beautifully homemade blankets and other gifts included.
Boxes filled to the brim made the Social Impact Studio on campus look like Santa’s grotto by the time all the boxes were returned. They were delivered to Foster Hope Otago on November 30.
Social Impact Studio Manager Sze-En Watts says previously the University worked with an offshore initiative to provide boxes of Christmas presents so having the opportunity to work with a local initiative was welcome.
The drive’s theme of Live, Love, Local was really embraced by one student who contacted Dunedin-based soap-makers Curly&Co about buying some of their soap products to donate.
Handmade blanket.
The mother/daughter duo who own Curly&Co went to work making new smaller soaps for their client and decided to match the donations so there was double the amount of handmade children-sized soaps.
Foster Hope Otago/Southland Co-ordinator Juanita Willems says she is overwhelmed by the donations from the University because she is aware there are many organisations running collections this year.
“We are extremely grateful that we have been chosen to be the recipients of this and we know that we can fill all of the names on our list.”
Sadly, many children enter into emergency facilities during the Christmas period.
Ms Willems says at the moment, there are 870 children in the Otago region to support and there will be more as the month progresses.
“This is so simple for us to do but for Juanita and her team and the tamariki involved this is priceless,” Ms Cox says.