Mangawhai Helping Hands extends to wider community

Posted at 12:08pm Monday 16 Nov, 2020

Libby Clews has built Helping Hands into a major charity even while raising two children under 5.

What started as a Facebook page for gifting spare goods has grown into a community organisation reaching out wherever there is a need.

Libby Clews took over the 500-strong Mangawhai Helping Hands community page four years ago and has turned it into a registered charity with an extensive voluntary organisational structure.

Things started to expand when Libby noticed early on that there was more demand for some items on the Facebook page than others – in particular, chests of drawers and washing machines.

Thanks to help from the Mangawhai Men's Shed, Helping Hands collects dead washing machines and broken drawers from the community and fixes them up before gifting them.

“There are a lot of young families in Mangawhai with only one parent working and they are doing it tough,” Libby says.

“I respond to comments online where I see hardship.”

She recently linked up a mother and child who needed a hand with a “grandma” who was looking for company.

Helping Hands began distributing food parcels two years ago, with goods supplied from Warkworth

Countdown. It also has a team of volunteer cooks who make meals of lasagnes and bakes, which are provided to people who are ill or bereaved or recently had a baby.

Soon the Helping Hands community stand will be renovated and opened as a pātaka kai, (shared pantry) with the blessing of iwi.

Next year, Libby plans to deliver food packages to schools, providing lunches for kids who are turning up without food.

She is also looking to help businesses with Covid recovery by creating a local “club card”, which will allow members to access offers and discounts to encourage shopping locally.

It doesn't stop there. Libby's big ambition for next year is to establish a purpose-built boxing facility.

The vision is to have trainers and social workers working together to help youth who need direction.

Libby is eyeing up the Mangawhai Domain but is eager to work with Kaipara District Council to find a suitable site.

Also for next year, Libby is organising for hairdressers and dentists to visit Mangawhai and provide their services for free for a day to help those who are unable to afford them.

Meanwhile, Helping Hands will be hosting a community Christmas party in the Mangawhai Domain on December 5.

If that wasn't more than enough, Helping Hands is also looking to extend its services to Wellsford and Maungaturoto.

“If I find something that needs doing, I will find a way to do it,” Libby says.

Info: mangawhaishelpinghands.co.nz


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