For the last five years, Sharon Beazley, National Credit Manager at Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand (CCANZ), has spent the lead up to Christmas rounding up volunteers to help at the annual packing day for organisation, Christmas Box.

The project was born out of a desire to see families that are struggling at Christmas time not miss out on the opportunity to enjoy and share this special time of year with family and friends.

“Christmas Box really values the relationship we have with CCA [Coca-Cola Amatil] - their contribution through both product and hands-on help really fosters an environment that allows all involved to take our eyes off ourselves and help other people. It’s is all about speaking hope and value to people and we feel that CCA have really captured that essence” says Mel Pewhairangi, Christmas Box Project Manager.

The charity has been around since 2001 and has grown from humble beginnings in Auckland with 20 volunteers and old banana boxes to three annual packing days across Auckland, Melbourne and Rarotonga delivering over 12,000 volunteer-packed boxes.

Goods are donated to Christmas Box mostly from FMCG businesses including Coca-Cola Amatil and Nestle. These goods (think chocolate almonds, Christmas cake and fruit juice) make up the contents of the Christmas Boxes, collated on packing day by community volunteers.

This year, Sharon rustled almost 100 volunteers across ten different departments, including Marketing, Quality Assurance, Distribution and Finance, and their family members. She says that since she started coordinating CCANZ volunteers in 2010 they’ve “more than doubled” in volunteer size with many volunteers now in their third or fourth year of helping out at the annual packing day. She gets very positive feedback from volunteers that it provides a “sense of unity for the group”.

At the LIFE Convention Centre in Mangere, Auckland, CCANZ volunteers and Sharon herself joined hundreds of other community volunteers at 6.45am on a Saturday morning. They split off into groups of 30 and each person was assigned a product to place in the box as they moved their way from one end of the line to the forklift at the end that would remove full pallets for community distribution.

By mid-morning the CCANZ group had packed thousands of boxes, but Sharon says it’s “not about quantity for Christmas Box, it’s about quality. For the recipients of these boxes, we want them to feel someone has taken the time to pack them just for them. We want them to feel special”.

Even in her fifth consecutive year of involvement with Christmas Box, Sharon has every intention to continue saying she loves “knowing you’ve contributed to someone else’s Christmas and perhaps alleviated some of that pressure for families at this time of year”.

To read more on Christmas Box, visit their site here