Pitching for voting dollars: Baskets of Blessing's Lee Nicolson wowing an Auckland audience last week


Young Auckland professionals last week raised $6000-plus for a Queenstown charity helping out-of-work locals.

Philanthropy organisation 10×10 New Zealand organised a crowdfunding Dragons’ Den-style event in Auckland in which three charities pitched for funding from the audience.

One of the chosen charities was Queenstown’s Baskets of Blessing, which has produced more than 14,000 meals for needy locals since April.

Volunteer coordinator Lee Nicolson made her pitch to an audience of 120 plus 30 via livestream.

Of $21,000 raised, 6235 ‘voting dollars’ went to Baskets.

‘‘I was talking alongside two Auckland-based charities so I would not have been at all surprised had the majority wanted to support their own local region,’’ Nicolson says.

‘‘But the compassion for Queenstown was noticeable, and I think what resonated was the way the community’s helping the community in Queenstown.’’

She says the atmosphere in the room was ‘‘quite electric, because all these
millennial professionals are so passionate’’.

‘‘They were so keen to make a difference, it was wonderful.’’

Meantime, Baskets was also the big winner of Tuesday morning’s ODT Grocery Grab at New World.

While the competition was won by Michael and Megan Palmer — who were given five minutes to grab groceries from the Remarkables Park Supermarket — they chose to donate everything they grabbed to the charity, to help feed families in need over Christmas.

Big heart: Queenstowner Megan Palmer checks out at New World on Tuesday after a the ODT Grocery Grab, which she donated to Baskets of Blessing

The ODT, Mountain Scene’s sister paper, covered $500 of the $1400 spent,
while the balance was covered by donations made to Baskets of Blessing.

Nicolson says she, Joanne Robb and Bernice Hassed met Megan at New World on Monday night to establish a game plan and work out what would be of most use in meal hampers and ‘‘ideal additions’’ to Christmas gift baskets.

They even cross-referenced their lists with a map of the store including a red line to indicate the most efficient travel route.

‘‘The success of the grab was breathtaking, filling many trolleys with both
family staples and treats for Christmas,’’ Nicolson says.

‘‘When the clock stopped all we could do was squeal with delight and excitement … It was an incredibly heartwarming moment.’’