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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Charity offering help to quake-affected families

Charity offering help to quake-affected families

Last updated 05:00 29/04/2011
A children's charity is seeking Christchurch families in need of financial help after the February earthquake.

Variety raised more than $164,000 after the quake, to be distributed to children with special needs, used to provide toys or equipment, pay for school or sports fees and help children cope with loss.

The annual Variety Bash, a convoy of more than 25 quirky old cars and fire engines, travelled around the North Island last month, raising $59,000 for Christchurch children.

Variety chief executive Lorraine Taylor said New Zealanders had been generous through the Give an Hour appeal, which asked people to donate at least one hour of their pay..

"Many Christchurch children will have lost parents, and many of their homes and schools are damaged. Their loss is immense," she said.

Several grants have already been given to Christchurch families, including Kendyll Mitchell and her children, Jett, 4, and Dita, 1, who fled the city after the magnitude-6.3 quake.

The family were at a counselling session on the fifth floor of the Canterbury Television building to help Jett cope after the September quake when the February 22 quake struck.

Mitchell was knocked unconscious for about 10 minutes. Her pelvis was broken in three places and she spent eight days in hospital.

"When I woke up they were both staring at me – just total disbelief. They were covered in blood, but it was my blood."

She said the family were surrounded by rubble.

"There was just enough room for the three of us. I could see the sky, the stairwell and could smell smoke," she said.

"I felt quite helpless because I couldn't get my kids out. It was not much fun at all, but we're very lucky to still be here. It could have ended a different way."

Mitchell had been in contact with several of her rescuers to say thanks, although she did not realise how many people were involved at the time.

"I had tunnel vision. In the middle of it, I didn't even realise there were all those people there."

The family's rented home in Spreydon was "perfectly fine", but they have relocated permanently to Timaru, where they could relax away from the aftershocks.

"Jett's gone back to being the normal boy he was before the September quake."

Mitchell was "slowly healing" physically, but the psychological impact of the quake was still devastating, she said. "I won't be fully right for quite a while. I can walk, but I've still got a lot of pain, but emotionally I've got post-traumatic stress."

She was receiving counselling and had been told she was "doing pretty good considering. My whole life has been turned upside-down in a matter of seconds."

Dita was coping with the quakes well, but Jett remembered every moment of February's quake.

"Jett was just very sensitive to every earthquake. He remembers it all, but I guess because of his age he doesn't know the magnitude of it."

Mitchell said she was contacted by Variety after appearing in a women's magazine article. Variety provided cash to help the family relocate to Timaru and buy items for the children.

Families needing assistance from Variety can visit or phone 095204111.

- The Press

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