‘Birthday’ gifts given to others

    Alexandra Henry (7), of Invercargill, donates the food she collected in lieu of birthday presents to the Southland Foodbank. Photo: Supplied

    SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Alexandra Henry sacrificed birthday presents in order to make a donation to the Southland Foodbank.

    “It’s nice to think of others instead of yourself,” Alexandra, of Invercargill, said.

    Southland Foodbank worker Julia Maynard said foodbank staff received a call from Janet MacManus about her granddaughter, Alexandra, last Wednesday.

    Mrs MacManus said Alexandra had recently had her seventh birthday party and, instead of presents, she had asked her friends to bring a food item to give to the foodbank.

    “They [Alexandra’s family] are very fortunate, they’re not poor, but [Alexandra] sees people that don’t have what they have and is very willing to share,” Mrs MacManus said.

    Mrs MacManus said Alexandra got the idea from the Free Comic Book Day, hosted by the Next Rotary Generation, at the Invercargill Public Library in May.

    “They did a thing where the kids brought in tins of food and got comics – she didn’t know exactly what the foodbank was but she had an idea it was something kind.

    “Some of those kids arrived [at Alexandra’s birthday party] with quite large bags of food, which was very nice. It was lovely.”

    Alexandra is the great-granddaughter of Joe Morris, a co-founder of the Southland Foodbank along with Invercargill councillor Anne Stoddard 26 years ago, Mrs MacManus said. Back then, Mrs MacManus worked in social services.

    “I was appalled at some of the stories [of poverty] I’d heard at work and when I told Dad [Mr Morris], he was happy to help out. Dad was involved with Federated Farmers and was able to get farmers to donate sheep for meat [to give to families who were struggling]. Farmers would also grow a few rows of carrots or potatoes for the foodbank,” she said.

    Mrs MacManus said she thought the same charitable spirit was evident today with organisations such as the Spirit Army growing food and local churches providing meals for the poor and homeless.

    “Some people have got it tough out there and some people are really struggling, even people that are working.”

    Alexandra’s thoughtful gift didn’t mean she ended up without any gifts herself.

    “I got some presents – some Lego and a book,” she said.

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