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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog - Big Bake Off (Chaz Harris)

Can we make the Big Bake Off a Big Bake Sale?

Last updated 09:02 25/02/2011
 
People have the best of intentions. To see so many people opening their homes and hearts to stranded tourists and residents has been inspiring and has generated a sense of pride. The feeling of helplessness has subsided and people have decided to do whatever they can to help, but in some cases I wonder if it has all been fully thought through.

Last night I began wondering if sending baked goods down to Christchurch as part of the big bakeoff was such a bright idea because Civil Defence has been urging people not to send any more goods and only give cash. To have a coordinated response and get supplies to people when and where they're needed, it all needs to happen through one channel.

If the people on the ground in Christchurch suddenly have a truck or container full of baked goods or supplies show up when they're already in action distributing food parcels, there's a risk of all of that wonderful effort being fruitless because baked goods will only stay fresh for so long.

I understand the feeling of wanting to do something active rather than just donating money, but we have to balance this with knowing that the people and systems may not be there to handle and cope with unexpected supplies and all of that needs to be channelled through the appropriate avenues. They know what they need and when they need it so we should let them get on with their jobs until they ask for it.

The reason I say this is because Civil Defence has issued messages urging people to only give cash and not send any goods. If the Civil Defence people need something, they'll ask for it and until then it's accommodation for stranded people who need to get out of the city and providing the teams in Christchurch with the money to spend on whatever is needed at any particular moment. The Red Cross CEO also said not to send baked goods because it would divert attention from their response.

Here is the official text that came out regarding contributions from Civil Defence on Thursday:

CEQgovtnz: People wanting to contribute to the response are encouraged to contribute financially ONLY. #eqnz #chch http://bit.ly/d94pAr

However, all is not lost - there is nothing to stop us Wellingtonians from having the biggest bake sale this city has ever seen on Monday, February 28, and we could raise a heap of cash to give to the Red Cross appeal. If people brought trestle tables, surely it would be easy enough to line Midland Park and Civic Square with them and lay out the baked goods for sale to people during the day.

Money raised this way would be of more practical help than food being gathered and sent.

So Wellington, I'd like to ask those organising and taking part in the Big Sunday Bake Off to consider having a Big Bake Sale on Monday and for all Wellingtonians to get out and buy some baked treats and help out the Red Cross NZ appeal.

In the meantime, give cash, not goods. Donate to the NZ Red Cross or phone 0800 733 276.

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