Casino Trust early Christmas gift

More Otago community groups benefit from Casino Charitable Trust.

Community groups throughout Otago have received an early Christmas gift, thanks to Dunedin Casino Charitable Trust’s second allocation for 2023. Thirty-eight groups benefited from donations totalling $71,000 – increasing the trust’s total donations of more than $4 million since 1999.

This latest round covered a broad range, particularly pleasing for Casino Trust chair Haley van Leeuwen who says this second allocation reaches more community groups: “We look forward to November’s round, as we get to spread money far and wide. It’s a positive and nice way to end the year. Just before Christmas is a lovely time to support worthwhile organisations, most of whom are powered by volunteers.”

The Nest Collective NZ Charitable Trust was a first-time recipient; with $3000 given to the new Dunedin branch, with van Leeuwen pleased to note the work it does helping families with new-borns.

Nest is ending its third year as a nationwide collective of volunteers who work alongside community partners to provide free packs of baby essentials for families. Trust chairperson Wendy Thompson says Dunedin is the newest of six branches in New Zealand, and this grant will help reach smaller towns often overlooked.

The money will also help buy the content of the packs. They comprise comprehensive, essential goods – new, pre-loved, handcrafted and repurposed – from clothing, toys, bedding, books and more.

Apart from bought items, the bulk of goods are donated. Dedicated volunteer ‘Nest Makers’ also do remarkable work, either knitting or repurposing sheets and woollen blankets, according to Thompson: “It’s a cool concept – being sustainable and supporting whānau.”

Wendy says mothers’ gratitude proves how essential this work is. To date, 632 packs have been distributed throughout the country and this is only expected to increase with Dunedin’s branch spreading Nest’s reach.


Helping patients within their homes

The Otago Community Hospice received $5000 for the purchase of two syringe drivers for use in the in-patient unit and in the community. Director of People and Communication Becs Wilson, says the grant was very much appreciated. Being a totally free service, grants such as this, and donations from the community, are vital to help fund specialist palliative support to families and their loved ones facing terminal illness.

From a small unit and handful of patients 30 years ago, the hospice is now a sizeable and professional service; supporting patients and their families throughout Otago. Caring for 250 patients at any one time, Wilson says the hospice helps around 860 terminally ill patients, as well and support their families through the journey, each year.

And not just cancer. Hospice’s dedicated team supports patients with any terminal illness – either in their home, residential care setting, or within the hospice’s inpatient unit.

“We care for anyone in Otago needing specialist palliative care no matter what the illness, their age or where they live – and it’s always for free,” she says.


People leaving prison

Momentum Charitable Trust received $5000 to help its work partnering with providers and community organisations to prepare and support people for life outside prison. Programmes include teaching important life skills within prison to help overcome areas like poor literacy, numeracy and a history of unemployment. Momentum also works with community-based organisations – ideally independent of the system - to support and help with wrap-around services such as accommodation, budgeting and employment.


Grand Casino pleased to support so many

Grand Casino CEO Dominique Dowding is heartened to see so many smaller community groups receiving grants in this second allocation for the year, just before Christmas. She says the Casino Charitable Trust plays an important role within the region and this second round of just under $71,000 will go a long way to support the community.

“The wide range of initiatives is to be applauded, particularly the efforts of all volunteers who give their time in extraordinary ways to help others. Giving back sits at the heart of our community and I am proud the trust can play its part.”