National | Christmas

Box of Goodies helps make Kiwi defence staff overseas feel at home this Christmas

From the Sinai Desert to Antarctica, this year, 120 boxes full of Christmas goodies have been packed and sent to all currently deployed New Zealand Defence Force personnel all over the globe.

Coffee sachets, fudge, scorched almonds and dark chocolate chunk cookies are just some of the treats being sent around the world to bring a little taste of home this Christmas in a partnership between food brand Pams and the RSA.

Pams has been supporting the RSA for over five years.

“It’s a really good feeling to be part of this initiative that bundles up a few of our Kiwi traditions for New Zealand personnel, especially for those serving in places where Christmas isn’t celebrated,” says Melissa Steffensen, head of brand and channels for Foodstuffs Own Brands.

“We’ve always been really focused on making food accessible to people – especially during Christmas and working with the RSA to send these donation boxes is another way we’re able to achieve this.”

The Pams team works closely with the RSA and the Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) to choose products for the donation boxes each year, as each box must weigh the correct amount.

“Not a gram over, there isn’t even any room for air gaps, so it really is a military operation for us. Everything is measured and weighed down to the last millimetre and then packed tightly into the boxes to be put onto aircraft for delivery.”

Some of the goodies on their way to NZDF staff around the world. Photo/Supplied

This year, donation boxes are being sent to the peacekeeping force which is part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai Desert, personnel who are deployed with United Nations (UN) in the Middle East, in South Sudan and in South Korea, personnel who deployed recently to the Solomon Islands and even personnel providing logistical support to the New Zealand operations in Antarctica.

Reaching the personnel across the globe via traditional means has not been easy, so the Royal New Zealand Air Force has helped deliver the boxes to every place with NZDF personnel.

RSA communications advisor Jeremy Seed says this initiative is incredibly special for deployed personnel and the RSA is grateful to have Pams on board as a major supporter.

NZDF personnel in the Sinai desert receive their Christmas goodies. Photo/Supplied

“It’s fantastic being able to provide a taste of home to personnel who are far from New Zealand and their loved ones at this special time of year.

“We know the parcels are appreciated and welcomed by personnel spending Christmas away from home, and we often receive heartfelt thankyous from recipients.”

“We’ve been very lucky to have such awesome support from Pams that allows us to continue this initiative and spread the Christmas cheer to all serving personnel, no matter how far from home they are.”

Steffensen says the annual RSA donation boxes are a great reminder of the impact of kindness at this time of year.

“To be able to get behind such an awesome and underappreciated organisation such as the RSA is a real reminder that true kindness often goes unnoticed.”